NEWCASTLE UNITED will attempt to sign Toby Alderweireld on a season-long loan before the transfer window closes this evening, but they will have to beat off strong competition from Southampton for the Atletico Madrid defender.
That could apply to Belgian defender Alderweireld, who can play at centre-half or full-back, with Atletico officials having yesterday signalled their willingness to allow the 25-year-old to leave on loan, with a view to a permanent move next summer.
That would suit Newcastle, with boss Alan Pardew having identified gaps in both defence and attack, although the Magpies are just one of a number of clubs to have initiated discussions with Alderweireld and his representatives in the last couple of days.
Indeed, reports on the south coast last night suggested that Southampton were confident the Belgium international would be travelling to their training ground for talks rather than heading to Tyneside.
If Alderweireld was to choose Newcastle instead, his arrival would almost certainly trigger the departure of Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa, who is wanted by Marseille.
Newcastle are aware of Marseille’s interest, and Yanga-Mbiwa is understood to be keen on a move to the Stade Veldrome, but the Magpies hierarchy will only allow him to leave if another defender is in place.
Pardew will be in close contact with managing director Lee Charnley and chief scout Graham Carr as today’s developments unfold, but the trio are increasingly resigned to not being able to add to another forward to the ranks.
With Loic Remy having completed his move from QPR to Chelsea, Lacazette is the only one of Newcastle’s established attacking targets who could realistically become available today.
However, a succession of talks with Lyon officials have led nowhere, with the Ligue 1 side steadfastly refusing to lower their £14m valuation of the striker.
Having shelled out more than £20m to sign Emmanuel Riviere, Remy Cabella and Siem de Jong this summer, as well as adding Ayoze Perez and Facundo Ferrerya to the ranks, Ashley is unwilling to pay an eight-figure fee to recruit another attacking player.
Ideally, the Newcastle owner would prefer to sign another striker on loan, with a view to a full-time deal next summer, but Lyon are unwilling to countenance such an arrangement for Lacazette, who scored in his side's 2-1 defeat to Metz yesterday.
As a result, it looks increasingly likely that tonight’s deadline will pass with the France international still in situ at the Stade Gerland.
The other main issue to be resolved today revolves around Hatem Ben Arfa, and Newcastle officials will be doing all they can to engineer the out-of-favour winger’s exit.
However, having rebuffed approaches from Turkish side Besiktas and Championship outfit Birmingham City over the weekend, Ben Arfa and his representatives are adamant they will not allow the 27-year-old to be forced out of St James’ Park against his will.
With one year of his current contract remaining, Ben Arfa is willing to remain on Tyneside until January, by which point he would be able to negotiate his own move as a free agent next summer.
That is something of a nightmare scenario for Pardew, who does not want Ben Arfa’s presence to become a sideshow, as it was in the second half of last season. Newcastle drew 3-3 with Crystal Palace at the weekend, and Ben Arfa’s name was sung at sporadic intervals during the second half, with a flag bearing his image being flown in the stands.
“For Birmingham, there is nothing,” said Ben Arfa’s legal representative, Jean-Jacques Bertrand. “They are just noises.
“However, I received an Email from the club confirming that Newcastle had found an agreement with Besiktas for the transfer of the player.
“I discussed the sporting advantages with his agent, Michel Ouazine, and Hatem, without talking about the figures. Finally, Hatem has decided not to go with this offer. He prefers to stay in England and play at Newcastle. Besiktas is therefore a no go.”
Bertrand has claimed he will ask the Football Association to investigate if Ben Arfa is still prevented from training with the rest of the first-team squad after the transfer window has closed.
“It is absolutely abnormal that he is not treated in the same way, and with the same conditions, as his team-mates in the first team,” he said. “If this continues after the transfer window, we will look to take action through the FA.
“He must have the same working conditions as the others. We are not asking (for) him to start games or be subbed on, but he just deserves the chance to train with the others. This situation cannot go on forever.”