Belfast Telegraph

Magpies board to discuss transfers

Steve McClaren was due to sit down with the rest of Newcastle's football board on Wednesday to discuss the club's faltering summer recruitment drive.

McClaren was heading into a scheduled debrief with managing director Lee Charnley and chief scout Graham Carr with the breakthrough for which they had hoped by this point still proving elusive.

Fans driven to the point of rebellion by the traumas of the second half of last season have grown increasingly impatient, and the emotions within the boardroom are broadly similar.

The former England boss had hoped to have several new faces on board before the first players returned to the club's Darsley Park training headquarters for the start of pre-season training on Wednesday, but as he got down to work, the planned influx of bodies is yet to begin.

Press Association Sport understands Newcastle have been hampered by a challenging summer market despite owner Mike Ashley having sanctioned significant investment after last season's struggles.

They have prided themselves in recent seasons on their ability to beat off competitors for targets by paying fees in full up front rather than in instalments.

However, with cash in the bank earning little interest in the current climate, it appears many selling clubs would rather have structured payments at regular intervals, and that has robbed the Magpies of one of their weapons.

In addition, some of the early business - the transfer window did not officially open until Wednesday, but many deals have already been agreed and are simply to be rubber-stamped - has set an eye-watering benchmark for prices with Roberto Firmino's £29million switch from Hoffenheim to Liverpool a case in point.

Indeed, Wolfsburg's sporting director Klaus Allofs publicly cited Firmino's fee in dismissing Newcastle's valuation of Dutch frontman Bas Dost, which reportedly amounts to around £9million.

Charnley is the man to whom Ashley has delegated responsibility for doing the deals, and the onus is very firmly on him to make a breakthrough and start the ball rolling.

Head coach McClaren is understood to be looking for up to six proven players to revitalise a squad which has been allowed to stagnate, and the men identified by he, Carr and Charnley would certainly do that.

However, while the targets remain the same and all are still available, there is little sign of imminent or decisive progress and with just nine days to go before the club's first pre-season friendly at Gateshead and a United States tour to follow, the need is becoming ever more pressing.


From Belfast Telegraph