CHRIS Hughton has hinted that Newcastle United may be able to spring a shock in the transfer market after admitting to surprise at the calibre of players that have become available during the summer.
United’s squad will reconvene at their Benton base for the start of pre-season training today without any new additions, but Hughton says they are making progress in their drive for new recruits ahead of the start of the Premier League season next month. He expects things to hot up when the World Cup finishes in six days’ time.
The United boss has limited funds but wants at least four new additions before the season starts and is looking to add a right-back, a striker, a dynamic midfielder and cover at left-back as a priority.
But he admits that things have become complicated by the pedigree of the players that have become available during the summer months. United were linked with a move for Everton’s highly-rated England Under-21 midfielder Dan Gosling over the weekend, with suggestions they are poised to take advantage of a contract wrangle that may see him free to leave for nothing this summer.
Newcastle sources stressed that an approach for Gosling is not imminent, although they would be near the front of the queue if he became available for nothing.
United, who were sent the list of Portsmouth players that are available this summer, also retain an interest in several of the FA Cup finalists’ squad.
“I think the transfer market will probably move on a bit after the World Cup finishes, which is probably normal in a World Cup year,” he said.
“Where we are at the moment is we’re making enquiries and beginning to make decisions on players but we are making progress. What happens over this period of time is that there are people that we have looked at and people that have become available that we believe are of the required quality to add to our squad.
“We’re getting plenty of phone calls at the moments from agents and from clubs and among those there are plenty of names that are now available that perhaps weren’t on our radar before.”
That includes players based abroad and in the Championship, as well as free agents and loan players.
United are not yet understood to have returned with an improved offer for Turkey striker Mevlüt Erdinç, the Paris-Saint Germain forward in whom they
retain an interest. “We’ve not particularly targeted foreign players, but we’re open to anything that may improve our squad,” said Hughton.
“That includes the Championship, free transfers and loan players too. We certainly won’t rule out looking at the Championship if there are players we feel are ready to step into the Premier League.”
One player who will not be joining United is former Rangers striker Kris Boyd, who has agreed to join North East rivals Middlesbrough.
The Scotland forward had been heavily linked with Newcastle since January but Hughton has never been more than lukewarm on any deal, despite attempts by the Boyd camp to generate interest.
Boro, by contrast, were active in their pursuit of Boyd and that has paid off. “I’ve had a few offers to consider and it’s been a case of talking to my family about the positives and negatives of each one,” Boyd said.
“Middlesbrough have always been very appealing. (Boro manager) Strachan has big plans and has made me feel wanted. I first met him in January and he impressed me at that meeting.
“Everything has just about been agreed and I will go through my medical today (Sunday) or tomorrow (Monday). I don’t envisage any problems and I’m looking forward to starting my Boro career.”
Former Rangers striker John MacDonald insists Boyd is not moving down a level by quitting the Scottish champions for the Championship.
MacDonald said: “He has done a lot at Rangers. I don’t think anyone could complain about the goals he has scored for Rangers and he has been brilliant for them.
“Rangers fans are going to think it’s a step back to leave Rangers for the likes of Middlesbrough.
“But the Championship seems to be a very hard league now. It’s so competitive and there is big money down there.
“The top teams there are paying big bucks to get the players that will get them into the Premier League. I think Middlesbrough have a good chance and they have a strong enough squad to challenge this year, at least to get into the play-offs anyway.”