The first two weeks of the EPL transfer window have passed, and while Newcastle fans wait for the confirmation of the Sandro Tonali transfer from AC Milan, long time Tyneside-linked forward James Maddison has joined Tottenham FC while Liverpool FC activated the release clause of Dominik Szoboszlai hours before he hit the open market.
The expectation is that Tonali will sit in the defensive midfield area of the Magpies enabling Bruno Guimaraes to push forward, or that the two will play interchangeable roles. While I imagine Alexander Isak and Callum Wilson will share the striker position, it’s apparent that Eddie Howe has requested an additional offensive weapon for the upcoming season. So, what’s next?
A month ago we identified a number of highly-valued targets from across Europe poised to move to bigger clubs this summer, many of which have already made the jump. In an odd twist for stateside Newcastle fans, the Tonali sale looks primed to fund the acquisition of Weston McKennie and Christian Pulisic, with Yunus Musah already Milan-bound. One of those names that is thankfully still on the table is Gabriel Veiga, a personal favorite of mine.
In the aforementioned post I sang the praises of Veiga, a born and raised Galician who has been with Celta Vigo his entire football career. In many ways the Spaniard reminds me of Tonali, both footballers who have established their names playing with passion and skill for their boyhood clubs. Likewise, both are young talents (23 and 21) born within the frontiers of international powerhouses Spain and Italy who haven’t quite made that jump to bonafide starting roles in their senior squads yet, let alone achieve galactic status.
While Tonali is more of a central anchor to his team, Veiga is an offensive machine capable of scoring, crossing, and mailing through balls. In Celta Vigo’s La Liga finale, it was Veiga who scored both goals in a 2-1 victory over Barcelona to guarantee another season for the Galician club in the top division. When he was taken off the pitch after 71 minutes, the local was in tears as he received a standing ovation in what was destined to be a farewell to the club and city that raised him.
A positive development in his procurement is many Spanish outlets have reported that he will move to the EPL this summer, which makes sense considering his loyalty to Celta Vigo. Currently under contract through June 2026 at wages of €180,000/year (yes, you read that right, less than what Tottenham will be paying Maddison weekly), his release clause is reportedly in the £35m range.
While he’s also been linked to several clubs, I only see a main competitor in Manchester City, who could simply activate the release clause on a whim as Liverpool did for Szoboszlai, then loan him out for a season if they felt the youngster isn't ready for prime-time EPL football.
Veiga seems to favor a central or right-sided attacking role, which would make him a perfect replacement for Miguel Almiron--who turns 30 next February--or Sean Longstaff--whose defensive duties may not be needed with both Tonali and Guimaraes on the field.
Another internationally recognized forward potentially on the move this summer is Ajax Mohammed Kudus. The Ghanaian international was one of the only bright spots for the Black Stars in the 2022 World Cup, and while he isn’t necessarily a polished finisher, the 22-year-old is adept at disrupting the defensive line with tireless runs and quick pace. Unfortunately for clubs hunting his signature, like Brighton, Ajax made a fortune last summer off of Manchester United, and therefore the Dutch won't be pressed to sell the youngster for a low fee.
Man Utd continue to erode the transfer market by overpaying for role players, then never selling once their worth inevitably drops as they wallow on the bench for years. Last year’s September panic €100m purchase of Antony off Ajax is considered one of the worst pieces of business across Europe in 2022.
Still, it was insider David Ornstein who reported on Newcastle’s interest in Kudus back in May. I was listening to Grumpy Pundits on SiriusXM FC on Friday morning and Ornstein predicted Szoboszlai’s move to Liverpool a few hours before everybody saw Fabrizio Romano’s announcement.
If Kudus himself is looking for a lucrative move to the EPL, I can see Newcastle continuing talks should other targets keep finding new homes. Maybe that’s what Ajax is banking on after quoting Kudus' price at an inflated £40m, oddly a similar amount to Veiga’s release clause.
You know what my vote would be, but... who would you pursue?