NEWCASTLE United have dispatched a scouting team to the Toulon tournament in a bid to pick up the next Sebastien Bassong.
The Journal understands chief scout Graham Carr has been in France for the opening days of the competition, which attracts plenty of interest from Premier League clubs looking to unearth rough diamonds.
The presence of Carr is a further illustration of United’s commitment to a transfer blueprint which will see them import players under 25 with significant re-sale value.
It is the latest global posting for the United chief scout, who has racked up plenty of air miles since being appointed by the club in February.
This year’s tournament – which is not sanctioned by Uefa or Fifa – features under-20 sides from France, the Ivory Coast, Japan, Colombia, Chile, Denmark, Qatar and Russia.
There have been a number of notable finds at the tournament, not least Bassong – who featured in the tournament for the French under-21 side back in the summer of 2008.
Ironically, his performances in Toulon did not impress a United delegation that included Dennis Wise, although Kevin Keegan later offered him a trial and subsequently snapped him up for a bargain price of £500,000.
It later emerged that Bassong was playing
with an injury in the tournament. Gabriel Obertan, who is currently with Manchester United, played in last year’s tournament and the French side while Kevin-Prince Boateng also featured for Germany in 2007.
As well as an opportunity to check out players who sometimes dip under the radar, the tournament is also see as an important unofficial networking event used to sound out clubs about the availability of certain players.
And Carr’s presence should be an encouraging sign that United are set to dip into the market this summer, ahead of their return to the Premier League.
Unlike last summer, when scouting and forward planning went on hold amid the chaos and uncertainty of relegation to the Championship, the club appears to be engaged in some admirable forward-thinking.
United will send scouts to the World Cup in South Africa to check on global talents.
And Chris Hughton has already revealed that he has been busily working behind the scenes to recruit new signings.
The Newcastle boss is looking to inject some young blood into his squad and wants Manchester United pair Tom Cleverley and Danny Wellbeck to beef up his attacking options.
But Hughton doesn’t anticipate much happening before the end of this summer’s tournament in South Africa.
“It will be June or even July before teams start to make firm offers. I think most managers are assessing what they have and of course the play-offs haven’t even finished yet,” he said.
Meanwhile, Hughton remains adamant Steven Taylor will not be leaving the club this summer despite persistent suggestions he is a target for a number of rival Premier League clubs.
Taylor only has one year left on his contract and despite Hughton’s assertion he will be offered a new deal, that still has not happened. The longer that deal takes to materialise the more likely it is Taylor’s head could be turned if an offer is made.
But Hughton said: “He’s a big talent and a local lad with the club at heart.
“We’ll always endeavour to keep our best players and he goes into that category.
“It’s been frustrating for him. But he will come back fit and fresh for next season and now has a chance to play pre-season.
“Pre-season is always a fresh start and he’s still regarded as a very good young player for this club. I think everybody here is aware of the talent he’s got.”
Hughton has also denied reports he is set to make a move for Manchester City’s England winger Shaun Wright-Phillips.