Newcastle United fans in the Transfer Tavern might be worrying about a couple of departures in the next few days, but one signing from Aston Villa could help ease the pain.
The like of Real Betis, Athletic Bilbao and Real Sociedad are all reportedly keen to sign the Spanish U21 international Mikel Merino. Reports have also claimed that Sevilla have made centre-back Florian Lejeune their top target for this summer’s window, so these are fairly scary times at St. James’ Park, considering the lack of incomings.
Newcastle signed Lejeune last summer and his partnership with captain Jamaal Lascelles, especially during the second half of the season, helped the Magpies to a tenth place finish in the Premier League.
If Sevilla do tempt Mike Ashley with a big bid for the Frenchman and get their man, Newcastle will have to act quickly to replace him with Ciaran Clark and Chancel Mbemba seemingly out-of-favour with Rafa Benitez.
One player who could fill that void and would be available for a reasonable price is James Chester, currently at Aston Villa but who has Premier League experience with Hull and West Brom.
After losing to Fulham in the play-off final and missing out on promotion to the Premier League, Villa’s financial difficulties have been well publicised and at 29-years-old, Chester could bring in much-needed funds for manager Steve Bruce.
Similar to Lejeune, the Welshman is comfortable on the ball and can play out from the back. He has also played every minute of every game in the Championship during the past two seasons for Villa. Indeed, Villa have already allowed John Terry and Christopher Samba to leave the club and Chester is currently their last remaining senior centre-back. He would however make a shrewd signing for Benitez if Lejeune is to leave the club.
Valued at £7.2m by Transfermarkt, the former Hull City man would be the ideal replacement.
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