Newcastle took their January transfer spend to almost £90m yet still ended up harbouring a sense of frustration after failing in attempts to bring Manchester United’s Jesse Lingard and the Reims striker Hugo Ekitike to St James’ Park.
Although Eddie Howe was delighted to begin transfer deadline day having completed the £35m acquisition of the Brazil defensive midfielder Bruno Guimarães from Lyon in addition to recruiting the New Zealand striker Chris Wood and the England right-back Kieran Trippier from Burnley and Atletico Madrid for £25m and £12m respectively, Newcastle’s manager had sought increased creativity.
Despite agreeing a £20m-plus deal with Reims for Ekitike, a 19-year-old forward dubbed the “new Kylian Mbappé”, the player declined to board the plane Newcastle had laid on to transport him to Tyneside, expressing a reluctance to leave France at this juncture in his career. It is thought Ekitike was concerned that Howe’s team remain in the bottom three and wondered whether he really wanted to become embroiled in a relegation struggle.
Howe had more success with Matt Targett. The 26-year-old left back arrived on loan from Aston Villa until the end of the season after his first-team future was cast into doubt by Lucas Digne’s switch from Everton to Villa Park.
Targett, previously with Southampton, has long been admired by Howe and, providing things progress as planned, is expected to complete a permanent move to Newcastle in the summer.
Dan Burn was also at Newcastle’s training ground to seal his £13m move from Brighton on a two-and-a-half-year contract. The 6ft 7in, Northumberland-born centre-half was thrilled at being given a chance to join the club he supported as a boy and the 29-year-old hopes to be involved when Everton visit St James’ Park for a key Premier League relegation fixture next Tuesday. He said the move was “something I’ve dreamt of since I was a kid”, adding: “From sitting in the East Stand as a kid to now, it’s crazy.”
By then Dele Alli is expected to be installed in Frank Lampard’s midfield after Everton on Monday finally ended Newcastle’s longstanding interest in a player who presented something of a back-up plan when their initial attempt to take Lingard on loan first hit a brick wall this month.
Although the St James’ Park board attempted to revive the latter deal once it became clear that Ekikite would not be relocating to north-east England, it fairly swiftly became apparent that Lingard would be remaining with Manchester United until the end of the season.
Despite another, seemingly much more tentative, inquiry about taking the former Newcastle midfielder Gini Wijnaldum on loan from Paris St-Germain also foundering, Howe ended with an over-stocked dressing room.
Newcastle’s manager faces the problem of senior professionals kicking their heels at the club after being excluded from his 25-man squad. Although the situation was eased slightly by the goalkeeper Freddie Woodman joining Bournemouth on loan and the midfielder Jeff Hendrick heading to QPR until the end of the season, the left-back Jamal Lewis and the centre-half Ciaran Clark rejected loan moves. Clark had been wanted by Middlesbrough.