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Transfer Rumours

Mike Ashley reinstates age policy on buying players, Newcastle set to miss out on main target – Report

3 weeks ago
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It is reported on Tuesday morning that Mike Ashley has yet again directly interfered in Newcastle United’s attempts to bring in new players this summer.

This time it is said to be a new variation on the owner’s previous policy of not allowing any players to be signed who were over a certain age.

Mike Ashley not wanting to pay a transfer fee for any player over the age of 27.

It was The Mail who last Thursday revealed that Newcastle United were trying to bring in Southampton’s Mario Lemina.

The box to box midfielder is unwanted by the Saints and has just the one year left on his five year contract, so they are keen to sell and get something back for him. Southampton having paid £15m for Mario Lemina back in 2017 from Juventus and he then started 38 Premier League matches over the course of his first two years at the south coast club, however, never really became an automatic first choice for them.

Lemina spent 2019/20 at Galatasaray on loan (19 league starts), then with Fulham for 2020/21, it was 19 Premier League starts and 11 times named on the bench as the Cottagers were relegated.

However, now The Mail say that talks have gone nowhere on signing the midfielder (who they say is now Newcastle’s top target with any signing of Joe Willock very unlikely), with the big sticking point being Mike Ashley refusing to allow a transfer fee to be paid.

The report says Southampton are only looking for around £4m but that as Mario Lemina turns 28 in September, Mike Ashley won’t agree to a transfer fee to be paid.

Instead, the Newcastle United owner is insisting payment is taken by Southampton in the form of an unwanted NUFC player (or two…or three???).

Not surprisingly, Southampton have zero interest in Muto or Hendrick, or whichever other player(s) Ashley is trying to foist off on them.

Under Steve Bruce, Newcastle United have been allowed to sign a number of older players, including Gillespie, Carroll and Hendrick, though that trio were all free transfers.

Callum Wilson turns 30 this coming season and Mike Ashley allowed £20m to be spent on him, suggesting either this new age policy on buying players has just been introduced this summer, or even Ashley realised that relegation was a real possibility if he didn’t allow a proper goalscorer to come in. Ashley’s disastrous plan of replacing Rondon and Perez (23 PL goals between them in 2018/19) with Carroll and Joelinton (seven PL goals between them in TWO years!).

This transfer window was always looking a disaster waiting to happen, with Mike Ashley widely reported to be limiting any spending to a bare minimum, with mainly (entirely?) a reliance on frees and loans. However, if this is the kind of extreme he is taking it to, we should be very worried!

Newcastle United have been looking for a box to box midfielder for some time and as well as that favoured position in the middle of the pitch, Mario Lemina can also play on the right as a winger, a full back, or as a wing back, whilst he has also played as one of three centre backs in a three / five man defence.

With Mike Ashley set to make only very limited funds available, this is the kind of bargain basement signing you could have seen happening, a versatile player who can also fill in at various positions but mainly who could hopefully give Newcastle more mobility and drive in the middle of the pitch. A bit of a worry though that he could only get 19 PL starts for a Fulham side who were relegated long before the end of the season.

Also, not a player who is going to create or score a lot of goals, as in his entire first team club career, Mario Lemina has only managed eight goals in league games and three assists.

Another concern is that at Marseille, Lemina only started 25 Ligue 1 games in two years, before making only 15 Serie A starts for Juventus in two years, so only the 40 league starts in the four years immediately before joining Southampton.

The idea of Mike Ashley allowing Newcastle to pay £25m or £30m for Joe Willock was always laughable in my opinion, even if the midfielder was willing to come to Tyneside on a permanent deal.

However, if Newcastle can’t even land a player like Mario Lemina, who is unwanted by Southampton and available for only £4m, then that is not funny in any way for NUFC supporters.

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