COMMENT By Will Butcher
Newcastle would bolster their chances of surviving an instant return to the Championship next season with the signing of Manchester City’s Nolito.
The Daily Mail claimed on their live transfer blog (May 16, 10.42am) that La Liga side Real Betis are looking to secure a cut-price £3.4million deal for Nolito.
However, it is believed that Betis could struggle to afford the 30-year-old’s huge £100,000-a-week wages, and that could allow other clubs to move into pole position for the winger.
Here, Football Insider analyses three reasons why Newcastle should enter the race for the 16-time Spain international in order to bolster their chances of staying in the top flight.
At £3.4million, Nolito comes as a massive bargain after Man City signed the former Celta Vigo forward for £13.8million at the start of the season, in a move that was also perceived as a bargain signing struck by manager Pep Guardiola. Signing Nolito for such a small price will help Benitez preserve his transfer budget, as he looks to conduct a summer overhaul of his Toon squad. Known for his fleet-footed ability, skill on the ball and eye for goal, Nolito is worth a lot more than the going rate and the Toon must do all they can to convince the Spaniard to move north.
Newcastle have plenty of Spaniards on the books at St. James’ Park, including defender Jesus Gamez, playmaker Ayoze Perez and indeed manager Benitez. Teaming up with his fellow countrymen, as well as being given regular first-team football, Nolito should thrive on Tyneside and rediscover the kind of form that saw him score 12 times and lay on another seven assists during his 29 league and cup appearances in 2015-16. That kind of incision and creativity in the final third could be the key to keeping Newcastle in the division.
The French attacker is set to leave Newcastle at the end of his contract, which expires in the next six weeks and he will need replacing after being a regular member of Benitez’s first team this season. Although a useful player this season, Gouffran has struggled to hit the heights expected of him, after dropping down a division with the north east side. Bringing Nolito to the Magpies in place of Gouffran would be a massive improvement on the former Bordeaux star.
In other Newcastle transfer news, here are three reasons why this Premier League veteran would be a crucial signing if he moves back home in the summer.