By Matt Farr
Derby County boss Steve McClaren has ended Newcastle’s hopes of signing star midfielder Tom Ince.
The Sun reported earlier this month that Newcastle were contemplating an £8million move for the 24-year-old winger, but McClaren insists the player is not for sale, doing so in emphatic fashion.
Speaking to BBC Sport on Thursday, McClaren laughed off the reports, joking that Newcastle would need to offer much more than £8million to have any chance of signing him.
He said: “It’s newspapers stirring. He is staying, definitely. Rumours are what sells. Fortunately, we are in a good position where Tom is staying here.
“I heard that – £8m. That would probably pay for his right foot.
“It’s part of the game. It’s football, the window is open. Newspapers need to sell themselves.”
Ince has contributed nine goals and three assists from 29 appearances in all competitions for the Championship side this season, and his impressive displays have caught the eye of Rafa Benitez.
The Newcastle boss was looking to bring in Ince to add further quality to his attacking options, having lost Christian Atsu and Mo Diame to the Africa Cup of Nations.
But McClaren has no intention of letting his star midfielder leave the club, as he will play a key part in Derby’s bid for promotion to the Premier League.
The Rams are currently seventh in the Championship, five points adrift of the play-offs. They head into Saturday’s meeting with promotion rivals Reading on the back of two straight defeats.
Football Insider verdict
Ince would no doubt have made a defining impact at St. James’ Park. Newcastle do not plan on staying in the second-tier, and are building a squad capable of playing Premier League football for at least the next couple of years. His eye for goal and endless other qualities would have greatly improved Newcastle’s attacking unit, but while the Magpies could be disappointed to miss out on him, there are other men that Benitez could turn to with the same quality. Derby’s stance though should be a blessing for Newcastle, as it will enable them to move on and focus on those other targets, before they get snapped up by other clubs.
In other Newcastle transfer news, the Magpies are keen on bringing this Premier League ace back to the club on a loan-to-buy deal.