As we enter the final days of the transfer window, the rumours and gossip are only intensifying, and we can still expect a number of deals to be closed that will dictate the shape of the coming season.
The latest name to hit the headlines is that of 23 year old Belgian international Dennis Praet. The midfielder joined Sampdoria from Anderlecht last year on a five year deal worth something in the region of €10 million, but if the media circus is anything to go by, his days in Italy could be numbered.
Who is interested?
According to sources in the Italian media, Sampdoria have already received bids from a Russian club, believed to be either Spartak Moscow or Zenit St. Petersburg, offering €14 million. This was swiftly followed by a similar bid from Marseilles, and now Newcastle United has expressed an interest.
The whole topic of transfers has attracted an escalated level of attention over the past year or so, with fans now able to put their money where their mouth is. Many of the best new betting sites offer a range of odds on player transfers. So what do they think is likely to become of the lad from Leuven?
The odds are on him remaining at Sampdoria, at least for now. While a move to The Magpies might sound logical, particularly if they can sign him in the sub £13 million range, there are a number of potential obstacles they need to clear first. Not least among them is the fact that they are still holding a number of high earning players who were available for transfer but have been unwilling to move on for a lower salary.
These include such names as Grant Hanley, Tim Krul, Archaf Lazaar and Jack Colback, all of whom have been told their services are no longer required and they need to find new clubs.
Rumours of a bid
However, the word from Italian newspaper Il Secolo XI is that the club has already made a formal bid for Praet, and it suggests his move to North East England is all but assured. There is no denying that The Magpies are in dire need of a central midfielder who can make things happen. Some sources close to the club are suggesting that the talented youngster ticks all the boxes, but the statistics struggle to bear out the hype.
The Belgium international made 32 appearances for Sampdoria last season, in which he scored one goal and set up another. Not a track record that sets pulses racing, particularly in view of the fact that England’s Premier League is arguably a harder environment in which to thrive than Italy’s.
However, Newcastle are starting to run short on options, as well as time. Defeats to Tottenham and Huddersfield Town in their opening matches have already got the natives restless, and they need to be seen to do something before panic sets in. It could be that some young blood with a point to prove will be just what they need.