NEWCASTLE United’s pursuit of top defensive target Douglas has hit a stumbling block.
The FC Twente defender is near the head of United’s wish-list but The Journal understands the Tyneside club are ready to call time on the transfer after growing frustrated with complications surrounding the deal.
The 6ft 4ins 24-year-old is a long-term target of the United hierarchy, who had originally wanted to wrap up a swift deal for a player coming to the end of his contract.
His strength in the air, potential threat in the opposition box and athleticism are seen as a perfect complement to Fabricio Coloccini – and further competition for the returning Steven Taylor.
Indications from his camp are Douglas would love to make the move, but the deal is not proving as straightforward as the Magpies had hoped.
He is actually out of contract in the summer but there is confusion over a clause which could kick in at the end of the season, tying him down for another 12 months with the Dutch side.
To further complicate matters, Newcastle have grown fed up of dealing with multiple agents, prompting them to take a step back from the transfer after making initial enquiries to the Eredivisie outfit.
They are now waiting for both player and club to come back to them but are relaxed about the situation, having already compiled a list of possible alternatives that have been thoroughly scouted for months.
United also have interest in Montpellier’s Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa, who has been called into the France squad for Euro 2012, and Toby Alderweireld of Ajax.
However, one stipulation of this summer’s main targets is they must have versatility, raising the prospect of a fresh move for PSV Eindhoven’s Holland defender Erik Pieters.
The 23-year-old can play at centre-back and left-back and, as revealed by The Journal last month, would be keen to move to the North East.
While trying to move on defensive targets, The Journal understands United have also identified Holland striker Luuk de Jong as a replacement for Demba Ba if the Senegal striker leaves St James’ Park.
Ba has given no indications to his United bosses he wants to depart but, with a well-publicised clause in his contract, Newcastle are taking no chances and are already well ahead in their planning for the worst-case scenario.
With Alan Pardew quite open about the fact Newcastle may lose one of their big names over the close season, it should come as little surprise other strikers are being looked at. Before Papiss Cissé was recruited de Jong was looked at as a possibility in the January transfer window – only for Newcastle to strike a deal for the Freiburg man.
However, de Jong ticks every box and would ensure United retain the cutting edge which helped to propel them into fifth in the Premier League.
However, The Journal understands it is unlikely Newcastle’s budget would extend to signing de Jong unless Ba leaves th e club.
United’s key power brokers are set to hold their end-of-season summit which will set out the parameters of their summer spending – although most of those discussions have already been had.
Their desire to conclude swift business is likely to be hampered by the looming prospect of the European Championships, where right-back target Mathieu Debuchy is in line to play for France.
Pardew is anticipating a slow June as most clubs wait for the Euros to conclude before cashing in on their top assets.
He said: “Most clubs want to hold off to see how their players do.”