By Matt Farr
Newcastle United could be set to miss out on the signature of Manchester City outcast Eliaquim Mangala this summer.
The 26-year-old spent the duration of the 2016-17 season loan at La Liga giants Valencia after he was cast aside by City boss Pep Guardiola, but the Spanish outfit have opted against a permanent deal.
It was later claimed by the Times that Newcastle had hoped to hijack the deal after Valencia pulled-the-plug, but they are now facing stiff competition from Europa League giants Olympique Lyonnais.
Valencia were reluctant to finance a £17million move for the French international defender, despite being offered a massive cut-price deal by the Premier League side.
Mangala had moved to Manchester City in a staggering £42million deal in 2014, but both Lyon and Newcastle could also land the player for a fee of just £17million.
But Newcastle may be fighting a losing battle for one of Rafa Benitez’s leading defensive targets, after Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas confirmed that the defender had held talks with the club.
He said, as quoted by the Times: “Eliaquim Mangala came to meet us, it is a sign of obvious interest when a player takes the initiative to come and see the president of the club in which he wants to play.”
However, since it was first reported by the Daily Mail that Newcastle were showing an interest in signing Mangala, the Premier League newcomers have yet to step up their interest with a formal offer.
Benitez remains in the market for a new central defender this summer, and appears to be closing in on the signing of Eibar’s Florian Lejeune, but it remains to be seen if the still considers the City outcast as a top target.
Football Insider verdict
Although Lyon appear to have held preliminary discussions with Mangala over a potential move to France this summer, the door is still very much wide open for Newcastle to firm up their own interest. Mangala has not had the best time since arriving in the Premier League, and it would be understandable if he were to focus his efforts on sealing a move abroad, but Newcastle and Benitez can also offer him the fresh start he so badly needs. The Magpies need to add quality and experience to their back-line ahead of their Premier League campaign, and Mangala would be a fantastic asset – albeit an expensive one. Compared to Lejeune, Mangala must surely also be considered an upgrade.
In other Newcastle transfer news, a Serie A midfielder has issued a response to reported interest from the Magpies.