The Cutter understands that Newcastle United boss Alan Pardew is concentrating his attentions entirely upon the Dutch Eredivisie this summer in an attempt to add strength in depth to an already strong backline as he looks to bring in a trio of defenders.
Long-standing target Erik Pieters from PSV is all but in the bag following the left-back’s agent revealing recently that the player follows the club due to his close friendship with Magpies keeper Tim Krul.
The Dutch international appeals due to his versatility and indeed was Pardew’s preferred choice following the departure of Enrique last year but despite the player’s keen interest the deal fell through due to complications.
There is expected to be no such hitches this time and though no formal approach has yet been broached PSV are said to be resigned to losing their 23 year old star to Tyneside.
Another move very much in the pipeline is for FC Twente’s towering centre-back Douglas. The impressive 24 year old Brazilian has been extensively scouted by several Premier League outfits including Aston Villa and Fulham but it is Newcastle who hold the aces with their European qualification.
Douglas has already informed Steve McClaren that he wishes to leave this summer and ply his trade in England with the former national boss already lining up a replacement such is his surety that he’ll lose his prized asset.
So far, so straightforward, but Newcastle’s fantastic season has not only surprised others but also themselves which has meant tweaking their widely respected transfer strategy of unearthing a rich seam of talent for bargain fees from lesser exploited European markets. Though this policy, led by head scout Graham Carr, is still very much considered the way forward Pardew also believes that a couple of marquee names – within budget – are required to deal with the possible demands of Champions League football at St James’ Park next term.
To that end he was spotted a fortnight ago at the Amsterdam Arena personally checking out Ajax’s talented centre-back pairing of Jan Vertonghen and Toby Alderweireld as the Eredivisie leaders beat Graafschap 3-1. The latter – an imposing but stylish stopper very much in the Ajax mould – has made it tentatively known that he would be open to the idea of challenging himself with the demands of the English game whilst his partner £10m-rated Vertonghen is being coveted by everyone from Arsenal to Manchester City.
Where this recent ‘upgrade’ in transfer targets leaves Virgil van Dijk of FC Groningen is anyone’s guess but the 20 year old prospect is also rumoured to be on Pardew’s radar.
Although Newcastle’s defence has been sound this season with Coloccini in particular imperious throughout prompting a remarkable 14 clean sheets in their 34 games (including shut-outs for all of April so far) there is a distinct lack of quality depth to their rearguard which could be easily exposed through the treadmill of European fixtures added to domestic duties. With six different targets, all based in Holland and all 24 or under, this is evidently something that the silver haired boss is resolved to rectifying in some style.