clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Two familiar names back to Newcastle’s forefront amid endless rumors

Prior habits may shed light on this summer transfer strategy

If you buy something from an SB Nation link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics statement.

Republic of Ireland v France: Group B - UEFA EURO 2024 Qualifying Round Photo by Jean Catuffe/Getty Images

As we enter the belly of a hot summer, it’s hard to believe that Vincent Kompany will welcome reigning Premier League kings Manchester City to his new fortress in Burnley on Aug. 11th, less than four weeks from now!

While the Toon Faithful had a summer transfer wish list that included a starting left-back, midfield reinforcements, and competition for Allan Saint-Maximin and Miguel Almiron on the wings, only Sandro Tonali’s arrival to bolster the central midfield has been confirmed for now.

This summer has also seen a temperature rise aimed towards media entities like The Athletic, who have published multiple articles referencing the PIF Takeover and other pieces seemingly taking shots at Newcastle fans directly. While some of the confusion may get magnified by a paywall that can force readers to base their opinions on mere headlines, I found their piece ($) on Tonali’s arrival full of useful insight and a worthwhile read for any fan.

I would recommend exploring all of George Caulkin’s articles in The Athletic, but for the purposes of this post I wanted to point out some key nuggets I found fascinating; wording like “there could be no leaks,” and “interestingly, this is when Newcastle’s interest in Wolfsburg’s (now Dortmund bound) Felix Nmecha and Inter Milan’s Nicolo Barella emerged.” While a direct line isn’t drawn, it’s clear the author believes director Dan Ashworth and his team are skilled in the art of subterfuge and red herrings.

Internacional v Flamengo - Brasileirao 2023 Photo by Fernando Alves/Getty Images

Even a novice like me was quick to pour water on the Nicolo Barella leaks, and although I found it interesting by this point you are probably thinking “Who cares, why bother bringing this up now?” Matheus Franca and Mousa Diaby, that’s why.

You may recall that Sven Botman was the primary target upon Eddie Howe’s arrival at Tyneside to strengthen the backline, but it took him until last year’s summer window to sign the Dutch international.

With Dominik Szoboszlai (Liverpool), Arda Guler (Real Madrid), and Gabri Veiga all having release clauses, it made me wonder if perhaps Newcastle has willfully let the false flags fly as the scout team continues to work on the pieces Howe originally identified to complete his puzzle.

Diaby, a winger who likes to play on the right-hand side was linked to Newcastle back in the summer of 2022, after a season where Almiron finished with a single goal and zero assists in 30 EPL starts. We were all quick to banish Diaby’s memory when Almiron began the 2022-23 season with his shoes on fire, yet the Paraguayan’s position as the undisputed starter can be considered wobbly at best after he struggled to find the net in the latter portion of the campaign.

VfB Stuttgart - Bayer Leverkusen Photo by Tom Weller/picture alliance via Getty Images

In Diaby, Howe would have a 23-year-old France international who also likes to play as an inverted left-footed winger on the right side (Kieran Trippier overlapping, anyone?), and while most Newcastle fans would be ecstatic if Almiron replicated his 11-goal, 2-assist tally next season, Diaby accumulated 9 goals and 8 assists last season in the Bundesliga after putting up 13 goals and 12 assists the year prior.

Considering that Almiron endeared himself as a fan favorite at St James’ Park with his tireless work ethic and positive energy, I believe that another one of Diaby’s attributes that makes him so valuable to Howe is his similar durability and relentlessness.

In the last three seasons, Diaby has averaged over 30 league matches per campaign and participated in all eight of their Europa League games in the corresponding seasons. He tabulated the fourth-most minutes for Leverkusen this season at 2,699 minutes, the most by a Forward on the roster by over 1200.

In Brazilian 19-year-old Matheus Franca, Newcastle face a different set of pitfalls for the Flamengo attacking midfielder who is currently midseason in the Brazilian Serie A.

Franca has been capped at both the U16 and U19 level so far in his short international career and he has played a pivotal role in the Rio De Janeiro-based club since his teenage years. After the Magpies balked at a price upwards of £20m with a considerable sell-on clause last January, it’s apparent that the youngster is headed elsewhere this summer even if his final destination is not Newcastle upon Tyne.

On the flip side, Champions League football ensures that new arrivals will have more chances to break into the first team if only because of a loaded schedule full of games, a promise that clubs like Chelsea can no longer offer.

In the US, you can scout Flamengo during their league games on Paramount+ or catch their Copa Libertadores run on BeinSports.

If we keep waking up to a mishmash of perplexing directions every morning, I know which two targets I’m going to be keeping a close eye on until they have found new homes this summer.