Newcastle United's summer transfer plan may change due to Eddie Howe's 'priority'

When Newcastle United duo Sven Botman and Jamaal Lascelles both picked up serious anterior cruciate ligament injuries within weeks of each other, it was clear the Magpies' transfer priority would shift to adding defensive reinforcements to Eddie Howe's side this summer. The boss all but admitted so himself.

"When you’re missing players for that length of time, I think naturally that will impact what you're doing," said Howe. "You have to look at the situation you’re faced with."

With that in mind it is no surprise to see Howe and Newcastle's transfer team seek not one, but two free agents who can fill the position left vacant by Botman and Lascelles at the heart of the defence. Tosin Adarabioyo and Lloyd Kelly, leaving Fulham and Bournemouth respectively, are not marquee signings but are certainly capable of adding much-needed experience and ability to this Newcastle setup.

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Newcastle have pursued Adarabioyo's signature for weeks - and believed they had secured it - before Chelsea's 11th-hour swoop ended the north east club's hopes of pulling off the early summer deal. There is still hope the Kelly transfer will materialise.

Losing out on Tosin will certainly sting but it is not too much of a surprise to see the 26-year-old snub a move to St James' Park for a crack at impressing at Stamford Bridge. Despite Newcastle offering visions of a bright future, Chelsea ultimately can offer the player more money, European football and the opportunity to move 15 minutes down the road from his current location.

While most Newcastle fans will find it easy to move on, internally the club may well be reevaluating their entire summer plan based on this one rejection. Landing both Adarabioyo and Kelly would have essentially seen Newcastle's defensive business done before the window even opened.

Now, there is a question to be asked as to whether Howe needs to pursue Kelly on a free AND spend big money on another centre-back before the summer deadline in September.

Fabian Schar has been an ever-present feature in Howe's setup recently, while Dan Burn has filled in expertly when moved back into the heart of the defence. However, neither fan-favourite is getting any younger and there has been talk for some time over whether Newcastle need to try and find the long-term partner for Botman sooner rather than later.

Kelly, aged only 25, may turn out to be that man but there is a feeling the versatile Bournemouth star may be used both centrally and out at left-back whenever needed.

Newcastle spent £35m on a deal for Botman back in 2022 and a similar outlay would be enough to land Howe's side a right-sided, long-term partner for the Dutchman this summer. There are certainly worse options than Chelsea's Trevoh Chalobah, who is expected to be sacrificed by new Blues boss Enzo Maresca to make way for Adarabioyo's arrival. With a reported price tag of £25m, it would be an exciting and potentially shrewd signing.

Newcastle have previously expressed interest in Crystal Palace duo Marc Guehi and Joachim Andersen, while Nottingham Forest's Murillo would be a popular arrival.

Switching attention to the continent, Nice's Jean-Clair Todibo and Wolfsburg's Maxence LaCroix are affordable options who would upgrade the standard of Howe's defence. For a slightly higher fee, there would also be plenty of positives poaching Sporting Lisbon's Goncalo Inacio and Everton's Jarrad Branthwaite.

Of course while Kelly and one more central defender coming in would be a luxury, Howe knows he needs funds to strengthen elsewhere. Newcastle are keen to improve their goalkeeping department with Loris Karius departing and Martin Dubravka facing an uncertain future.

Already this summer the likes of James Trafford, Aaron Ramsdale, Giorgi Mamardashvili and Asmir Begovic have been linked with moves to St James' Park. Meanwhile, further up the pitch there will be outside clamour for additional attacking recruits chased - both out wide and through the middle.

Despite the lucrative 2021 takeover, Newcastle do not have an endless pot of money to dip into. Instead, Howe must prioritise which of his positions he wants to improve. If he seeks both Kelly and an expensive defender, expect plans to be altered in other areas of the pitch.