Although the Newcastle United takeover hasn’t yet gone through, the prospective owners are already looking to flex their financial muscles. According to Sky Sports and Mundo Deportivo respectively, they have their eyes on Napoli’s Kalidou Koulibaly and Barcelona’s Philippe Coutinho to begin the revolution in the northeast.
Newcastle Look to Koulibaly and Coutinho for Post-Takeover Splash
Koulibaly the Defensive Rock
Sky Sports reporter Kaveh Solhekol recently explained: “[Koulibaly] is likely to leave Napoli this summer.” He continued: “Koulibaly could be interested in moving to St. James’ Park to be part of a new project because he thinks that with this new economic power, Newcastle could become one of the biggest clubs in the world.”
The Senegal international, valued at €80 million by Newcastle, would amount to a massive coup and upgrade. A big, strong defender that’s good with his feet, Koulibaly would become the anchor of the defence and strong partner with captain Jamaal Lascelles.
That’s not to say the defence has suffered this season. In fact, it was of Newcastle’s strengths this year. According to WhoScored, five of Newcastle’s seven highest average rated players this year are on the defensive side. And that includes keeper Martin Dubravka. Central defender Ciaran Clark leads the squad with an average rating of 6.89.
This year with Napoli, Koulibaly averaged only a 6.78 in Serie A, despite playing just 15 games due to injury. But when it mattered most in the Champions League, he rose to the occasion averaging a 7.43 in six matches. On top of that, in both competitions, he averaged 2.3 aerials won per match. The only Magpies defender to top that was Lascelles with 2.6 aerials won per match.
Newcastle have an uphill battle to sign Koulibaly, especially without the attraction of Champions League football. But if he feels as strong as Solhekol says, then the sleeping giant that is Newcastle could awaken very soon.
Coutinho’s Newcastle Lifeline
Coupled with Koulibaly’s signing, Newcastle also want to bring in Coutinho, currently on loan at Bayern Munich. And according to Mundo Deportivo, it’s a “real option” for the Brazilian, even at €100 million.
Newcastle have scored a miserable 25 goals in the league this year, tied with Norwich City for the lowest in the division. However, the Magpies sit 13th in the table and eight points above the drop zone.
At Bayern Munich, Coutinho has impressed at times, averaging a 7.27 on WhoScored in the Bundesliga and a 7.35 in the Champions League. Newcastle’s highest-rated attacker, Allan Saint-Maximin, only got to 7.18. Moreover, Coutinho has scored and assisted a combined 17 times in all competitions this season. Newcastle’s deeper attackers – Saint-Maximin, Jonjo Shelvey, Miguel Almiron, and club-record signing Joelinton – have only managed 21 goals and assists together.
If Coutinho’s successful years at Liverpool are any indication of what his return to the Premier League might be like, he’ll boost Newcastle’s attack immensely. Bayern have already said they won’t exercise the option to buy him on a permanent basis, and Barcelona want to get him off the books as quickly as possible after struggling in Spain.
However much he’d like to go to another team competing in the Champions League, Coutinho may not have many suitors. At this point, Newcastle may be his best and only option, especially if they have the deep pockets required for his transfer and wages.
Together, Coutinho and Koulibaly will cost Newcastle a pretty penny. And while the club will have to work around Financial Fair Play rules, even though those will reportedly be relaxed due to the coronavirus pandemic, Newcastle should be able to manage the situation.
Newcastle have ambitious new owners coming in. Without even having completed their purchase of the club, they’re already looking to make big splashes with Koulibaly and Coutinho.