Newcastle United’s CEO has admitted the possibility of parting ways with Bruno Guimaraes, the former Liverpool transfer target, in response to the Magpies’ challenging season.
Despite securing a spot in the Champions League for the first time since 2002/03 last season, Newcastle United’s current campaign has not unfolded as expected. Last month, they were eliminated from European competition, finishing at the bottom of their Champions League group, trailing behind Borussia Dortmund, Paris Saint-Germain, and AC Milan, prematurely concluding their awaited return to the elite club competition.
Following a fourth-place finish in the Premier League last season, granting them qualification, optimism pervaded St. James’ Park, envisioning Eddie Howe’s team as potential Champions League regulars. However, six months later, they find themselves in ninth place after 20 matches, a considerable 16 points adrift of Jurgen Klopp’s table-topping Reds.
With an 11-point gap from the top four and a 10-point deficit from securing a guaranteed Europa League group-stage berth, Newcastle faces an uphill battle for European qualification in the upcoming season. The influence of domestic cups in the second half of the campaign will significantly shape the difficulty of this challenge.
Newcastle United have secured a spot in the FA Cup fourth round, paving the way for a showdown against Fulham following their victory over rivals Sunderland last weekend. However, their aspirations for consecutive League Cup finals were dashed after a penalty shootout loss to Chelsea in the quarter-finals last month.
Despite grappling with a string of injuries this season, Newcastle, buoyed by last year’s commendable performance, had higher expectations. This anticipation is magnified by the fact that over two years have passed since the Saudi Public Investment Fund catapulted the club into becoming the richest in the world.
While Premier League financial fair play regulations have impeded Newcastle from undergoing a swift transformation akin to Chelsea or Manchester City in earlier Premier League eras, their Champions League qualification last season provided a glimpse of their desired trajectory.
Eight months after securing that coveted qualification, supporters might not have foreseen the club’s CEO, Darren Eales, acknowledging the possibility of selling key players to comply with the Premier League’s profit and sustainability rules. This revelation comes on the heels of Newcastle revealing losses amounting to £73.4 million in their latest financial report this week.
Eales drew attention to Liverpool’s sale of Philippe Coutinho to Barcelona for £142 million in January 2018, using it as a cautionary example to underscore the potential consequences that could unfold at St. James’ Park.
When asked if any of Alexander Isak, Sven Botman and Bruno Guimaraes could be sold this summer, Eales replied: “On any player, at any time, it depends on circumstances. It’s difficult to say specifically on certain players, but I can say that, if we’re going to get to where we want to get to, at times it is necessary to trade your players.
“Whether that is because of the contract length of the player in question, the offer is too good to refuse, you need to reload in certain areas, but all of this could make sense to trade that player. It is counterintuitive and part of the inherent system of PSR that there is an incentive to trade your players if you want to reinvest, by the nature of the boundaries.
“It’s difficult to hypothesise but, if we’re offered £1 billion for one of those players, then no one could argue against that making sense. Any decision we make will always be against the backdrop of the medium to long-term benefit for the club.
“If you are churning players you create more headroom. We have seen lots of examples of this elsewhere. Coutinho at Liverpool and they brought in Alisson and Virgil van Dijk. Jack Grealish going from Aston Villa and they have reinvested and reloaded. Declan Rice at West Ham, it’s just the nature of the beast. If you trade players on it creates more headroom. You have to keep growing that headroom, increasing commercial revenue and player trading.”
He continued: “You have a £50 million player you can sell at your disposal and you bring in another player of the same value. What’s the point in doing that, you might say.
“It’s risky as we’ve already got that player here and we know what they can do, but under Financial Fair Play, if you sell a £50 million player and bring in an identical one on £50 million and the same wages, but amortise over the five years the player you are bringing in, that’s only £10 million a year so you are creating £40 million of headroom. That’s the reality of the FFP model.”
No matter how crucial they are to Eddie Howe’s plans, each player possesses a price. Guimaraes, in particular, has caught the attention of Liverpool, despite Newcastle vehemently rejecting transfer inquiries from both Reds and Chelsea in the past two windows, as reported by the Telegraph. Guimaraes, a Brazilian midfielder, signed a new five-year contract at St. James’ Park last September, but this doesn’t render him untouchable.
As one of Newcastle’s top earners, alongside Kieran Trippier, Bruno Guimaraes is reported to earn around £120,000-a-week, according to the Telegraph. While this figure is substantial, it falls within reasonable limits compared to the wages of Liverpool’s experienced first-team players. Additionally, the 26-year-old’s new contract includes a £100m release clause, setting the stage for a potential club-record deal if activated by Liverpool.
Despite their failed £111m attempt to sign Moises Caicedo last summer, Liverpool have a history of triggering release clauses, avoiding bidding wars as seen in the acquisitions of Alexis Mac Allister (£35m) and Dominik Szoboszlai (£60m). Club sources have dismissed the likelihood of Liverpool signing such a player in the January transfer window, following a £150m midfield overhaul that brought in four players, including Mac Allister and Szoboszlai. However, with Thiago Alcantara’s contract expiring at the end of the season, the prospect of adding another midfielder in the future remains a possibility.
When considering the previously mentioned overhaul, Guimaraes emerged as a notable player of interest. According to a report by The ECHO last year, Liverpool’s recruitment team expressed significant admiration for the midfielder. However, they acknowledged that any potential move for the Brazilian was highly unlikely. In light of Eales’ recent admission, there seems to be a shift in this stance.
It is important to note that Liverpool’s admiration for Guimaraes is not a recent development. Melissa Reddy from Sky Sports revealed to The Anfield Wrap in the summer of 2022 that the Brazilian would be the preferred signing for the Reds if they had the liberty to choose any player.
“There are a lot of names in that bracket (of players Liverpool like who are unavailable), even here within the Premier League,” she said. “If there was a blank canvas and Liverpool could sign anyone without any restrictions, so availability wasn’t an issue, the club he was at wasn’t an issue, all of those things, it would be Bruno (Guimaraes) from Newcastle.
“But somebody at City said similar, that they can’t believe that Newcastle got that deal. And for only £40m, that’s going to look like an absolute steal and already it’s shaping up to be that way. He’s a remarkable player, really phenomenal.”
Playing both as a number six and a number eight, the 26-year-old has become a favorite of Liverpool. He made the move from Lyon to Howe’s side for a £40m deal in January 2022, emerging as a standout signing since the takeover by PIF in the previous October.
Guimaraes’ remarkable performance for Newcastle, contributing 11 goals and nine assists in 86 appearances, played a pivotal role in securing a Champions League spot after a 20-year absence, drawing attention from other clubs.
While there’s no explicit for-sale sign, he remains within reach. Despite seeming unlikely for Liverpool to sign Guimaraes during the summer, Newcastle’s softened stance has altered the landscape, providing an opportunity for the Reds to reconsider acquiring the player highly admired by their recruitment team.
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