Wednesday 18 October 2017

McClaren wants five new faces

Newcastle head coach Steve McClaren is hoping for a transfer breakthrough
Newcastle head coach Steve McClaren is hoping for a transfer breakthrough

Newcastle boss Steve McClaren is hoping for up to five key signings as the club targets players in the £10million-plus bracket.

The Magpies have been engaged in talks over the likes of PSV Eindhoven midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum and QPR striker Charlie Austin, among others, in recent weeks with that calibre of player commanding valuations around the £15million mark.

They are yet to make a decisive breakthrough in the wake of owner Mike Ashley's promise to launch a concerted recruitment drive and an attempt to win a trophy after last season's demoralising fight for Barclays Premier League survival.

However, McClaren remains confident that the club is firmly in the race to land key targets, and that Newcastle are shopping in a different market to the one in which they have done their business in recent seasons.

Asked if the target was to make several £10million-plus signings by the end of August, he said: "That would be nice.

"Yes, I think the targets we have talked about and the positions to improve, we are talking about one, two, three, four, five....they don't all have to be top ones.

"We have to make sure not just the team is right, but the squad is right. There is a willingness from the club to do that, but there is not a panic in a business sense to do it."

Newcastle have concentrated for much of Ashley's tenure to date on the continental market with France a particular focus, and while that has paid dividends in the past, more recent forays have yielded less than satisfactory results.

The club will continue to exploit chief scout Graham Carr's knowledge and expertise in Europe, but the move out of the bargain basement to more salubrious surroundings presents its own challenges.

McClaren said: "We're close. We are working very hard behind the scenes.

"When you buy players for up to £5million, there are loads of them and in that respect, Newcastle would be top of the tree. When it's £5-10million, there are still a lot of them and we would be right up there competing with that group - and there are a lot of players in that group.

"When you go above that and look for a calibre of player to improve what we've got and to achieve our objectives - which we know, and thank goodness we know them - that makes a huge difference.

"The objectives have been set and we have to fulfil them, and that's what we are doing, so when you go £10million-plus - and there is a lot of speculation about that level of player at the moment - they are Europa League and Champions League players at top clubs.

"There aren't so many players in that bracket, so the competition is higher. It is more difficult to recognise their availability and get things done."

Managing director Lee Charnley is the man tasked with striking the deals, and he has come under pressure from fans frustrated by an apparent lack of progress, although McClaren insists he remains relaxed as he plans not just for the current transfer window, but the next three.

He said: "We have talked a lot about the next three windows being huge, massive, for us. Huge. Let's make sure we get the right ones.

"If we get them, then in a year's time - after the third window - we should have a damn good team and squad on a different level to where we are now. That is purely because we are looking at players above a certain bracket."

Press Association

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