By Pete O'Rourke, Transfer Correspondent

8th May, 2023 | 12:00pm

Pete O'Rourke transfer column: Liverpool big-name transfer 'verbally agreed', Aston Villa enter £60m race, Arsenal Ben White plan revealed, Newcastle chase World Cup star

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It is my understanding that Newcastle are preparing for a major squad overhaul this summer.

The Magpies are keen to flex their financial strength in the summer window, but are wary of Financial Fair Play regulations and therefore want to clear out seven players from the first team.

Loris Karius, Karl Darlow, Jamaal Lascelles, Paul Dummett, Emil Krafth, Matty Longstaff and Matt Ritchie are all set to leave St James’ Park this summer.

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Ritchie, Kairus, Longstaff and Dummett are all set to have their contracts expire at the end of the season and leave on a free transfer.

Meanwhile, Newcastle are hoping to recuperate some funds by selling Krafth, Darlow and club captain Lascelles.

Clearing out seven players will make space for a handful of summer arrivals, and Newcastle have made Real Valladolid right-back Ivan Fresneda a top target.

The Tyneside club pushed to sign the 18-year-old defender in January but saw their approach turned down.

They plan to reignite their interest in the summer but face competition from German giants Borussia Dortmund, who have already made contact with the player’s camp.

Dortmund are working on a £20million deal for Fresneda, and Newcastle will have to move quickly if they plan to hijack the move.

Eddie Howe has stressed to the Newcastle board that right-back is a priority area for the club to improve this summer.

The Magpies boss is desperate to provide some cover and competition for Kieran Trippier on the right side of his defence, and he does not yet deem January signing Harrison Ashby to be a starter.

Fresneda is the top target, but there is also interest in Inter Milan defender Denzel Dumfries.

The Dutch international impressed at the World Cup this winter and has attracted plenty of attention, and Newcastle are prepared to join the race for his signature if Fresneda joins Dortmund.



Mikel Arteta has plans to mix up his Arsenal defence next season according to my sources.

The Gunners boss is on the lookout for a new right-back, with Ivan Fresneda also a target for the North London side.

Borussia Dortmund currently lead the race for the teenage star, but Arsenal are big admirers and could table a bid this summer to match the £20million asking price.

Arteta is keen to add an attack-minded right-back to his side, and Fresneda fits the profile as a young and energetic player.

I understand that the reasoning behind Arteta’s transfer plans is that he intends to push Ben White back into a more central role next season.

White has shone for Arsenal at right-back this season, but Arteta would prefer more versatility and depth in his backline so that White can occasionally play in his preferred central role.

If Arsenal miss out on Fresneda, they plan to sign exciting Ajax prospect Devyne Resnch.

The 20-year-old has become a key part of the Ajax side this season and could be a cheaper option for the Gunners at right-back.

Brighton are also keeping tabs on Rensch and could provide competition for his signature, but Arsenal are hopeful that their Champions League qualification can help lure the Netherlands international to The Emirates.



Aston Villa have entered the race for Fulham star Joao Palhinha.

The Portuguese midfielder has attracted plenty of attention from European powerhouses this season, and Villa have thrown their name into the hat.

Tottenham, Liverpool, Manchester United, Chelsea and Bayern Munich have all registered interest in the 27-year-old.

Despite the huge amounts of interest in Palhinha, Villa are confident that they can compete financially with the Premier League’s ‘Big Six’, and they are willing to match Fulham’s £60million asking price.

While Villa cannot offer Champions League football to Palhinha, they are preparing a lucrative contract offer and are ready to promise regular first-team football.

Unai Emery is a big fan of Palhinha’s defensive abilities, and views him as a direct upgrade to his starting XI at Villa Park.

Vila owners Wes Edens and Nassef Sawiris are prepared to back Emery with a number of ambitious signings this summer after a strong finish to the 2022/23 campaign under the Spaniard.

Alongside Palhinha, Villa are plotting a move for Juventus striker Dusan Vlahovic.

It is my understanding that the 23-year-old has an agreement in place with the Turin club that he can leave this summer if they fail to finish in the top four or win the Europa League.

Should Vlahovic become available, Villa are prepared to pounce and offer him a deal that would make him the face of the club’s long-term project.

A new striker is a top priority this summer as Villa prepare their squad for the possibility of European football next season, and Emery ideally wants Vlahovic to lead the line.

A third target for Villa this summer is Barcelona winger Ferran Torres.

The Catalan club continue to struggle financially and could push Torres to leave this summer in an attempt to balance the books.

I understand that Torres is happy at Camp Nou, but is open to a Premier League return if staying at Barcelona is no longer possible.

While there are plenty of on-field changes expected at Villa Park this summer, the club have also added to their boardroom through the appointment of Mateu Alemany.

The Barcelona director of football has reached a full agreement to join the Midlands club this summer, although he is set to oversee one final transfer window in Spain before joining Villa.



The Reds are planning to offload four first-team stars to balance their books and prepare for summer arrivals.

James Milner, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Naby Keita and Roberto Firmino are now all set to leave the club upon the expiration of their contracts, with the club not offering them new deals.

Firmino’s exit was revealed earlier this season, and Milner’s departure will soon be confirmed with the 37-year-old verbally agreeing to join Brighton in the summer.

I understand that former Reds favourite Adam Lallana played a pivotal role in the move, with Milner still good friends with his ex-teammate.

Lallana spoke highly of Brighton’s long-term plans and the structure at the club, helping to convince Milner to sign with the Seagulls this summer.

Burnley, Everton, Leeds and Nottingham Forest were also circling for Milner’s signature, but his final decision was to join Brighton.

With a handful of midfielders set to leave on free transfers this summer, it is now understood that Liverpool want three new midfield arrivals.

Mason Mount, Alexis Mac Allister and Ryan Gravenberch are the club’s top three targets, and my sources tell me that Liverpool are growing increasingly confident of landing the trio.