Liverpool can now sign player their recruitment team admires the most


After qualifying for the Champions League for the first time since 2002/03 last season, Newcastle United’s latest campaign has not quite gone as planned.

The Magpies were eliminated from Europe completely last month, finishing bottom of their Champions League group behind Borussia Dortmund, Paris Saint-Germain and AC Milan, as their long-awaited return to the continent’s elite club competition was brought to a premature end.

Having finished fourth in the Premier League table last season to clinch the aforementioned qualification, four points clear of Liverpool, there was hope at St. James’ Park that Eddie Howe’s side could become Champions League regulars. Yet fast forward six months and they occupy ninth in the table after 20 matches, and are 16 points off Jurgen Klopp’s table-topping Reds.

11 points behind the top four and 10 behind the guaranteed Europa League group-stage berth, as things stand they face an uphill battle to qualify for European football next season with the domestic cups having a big say on just how tough a task they face in the second half of the campaign.

They are into the FA Cup fourth round at least, setting up a clash with Fulham after beating bitter-rivals Sunderland last weekend. But any hope of reaching back-to-back League Cup finals was ended by a quarter-final loss on penalties to Chelsea last month.

Admittedly, Newcastle have been badly stung by injuries this season. But after last year’s impressive campaign, the Magpies will have expected more. Especially now that it is over two years since the Saudi Public Investment Fund bought the club to make it the richest in the world.

Of course, Premier League financial fair play rules have stopped Newcastle from enjoying the same overnight transformation as Chelsea or Manchester City earlier in the Premier League era. But by qualifying for the Champions League last season, they were given a taste of where they wanted to be.

Eight months on from clinching that qualification, supporters perhaps would not have expected the club’s chief executive officer to admit that the Magpies might be forced into selling some of their star players in order to be compliant with the Premier League’s profit and sustainability rules.

With Newcastle announcing losses of £73.4m when filing their latest financial results earlier this week, Darren Eales used the example of Liverpool selling Philippe Coutinho to Barcelona for £142m in January 2018 to warn what could happen next at St. James’ Park.

When asked if any of Alexander Isak, Sven Botman and Bruno Guimaraes could be sold this summer, Eales replied: “On any player, at any time, it depends on circumstances. It’s difficult to say specifically on certain players, but I can say that, if we’re going to get to where we want to get to, at times it is necessary to trade your players.

“Whether that is because of the contract length of the player in question, the offer is too good to refuse, you need to reload in certain areas, but all of this could make sense to trade that player. It is counterintuitive and part of the inherent system of PSR that there is an incentive to trade your players if you want to reinvest, by the nature of the boundaries.

“It’s difficult to hypothesise but, if we’re offered £1 billion for one of those players, then no one could argue against that making sense. Any decision we make will always be against the backdrop of the medium to long-term benefit for the club.

“If you are churning players you create more headroom. We have seen lots of examples of this elsewhere. Coutinho at Liverpool and they brought in Alisson and Virgil van Dijk. Jack Grealish going from Aston Villa and they have reinvested and reloaded. Declan Rice at West Ham, it’s just the nature of the beast. If you trade players on it creates more headroom. You have to keep growing that headroom, increasing commercial revenue and player trading.”

He continued: “You have a £50 million player you can sell at your disposal and you bring in another player of the same value. What’s the point in doing that, you might say.

“It’s risky as we’ve already got that player here and we know what they can do, but under Financial Fair Play, if you sell a £50 million player and bring in an identical one on £50 million and the same wages, but amortise over the five years the player you are bringing in, that’s only £10 million a year so you are creating £40 million of headroom. That’s the reality of the FFP model.”

Evidently, no matter how important they are to Eddie Howe’s plans, every player has a price. And the possible future availability of Guimaraes in particular could be enough to prick Liverpool ears back at Anfield.

The Reds are known admirers of the Brazilian, with the Telegraph reporting last September that both Liverpool and Chelsea had seen Newcastle emphatically knock back transfer enquiries for the midfielder in the last two transfer windows as they immediately insisted he was not for sale at any price. A month later, Guimaraes would sign a new five-year contract at St. James’ Park. But that doesn’t make him untouchable.

Guimaraes is now believed to be one of Newcastle’s highest earners, alongside Kieran Trippier. Yet the Telegraph claim that wage to be in the region of £120,000-a-week. Wth the majority of Liverpool’s experienced first-team stars comfortably earning more for example, such terms are not extravagant.

Meanwhile, it has been widely reported that the 26-year-old’s new contract contains a £100m release clause. Hypothetically, if the Reds were the club to activate it, it would be a club-record deal.

Yet they showed a willingness to do exactly that last summer with a failed £111m move for Moises Caicedo. And a release clause would prevent any bidding war, with Liverpool taking advantage of such clauses when signing Alexis Mac Allister from Brighton for £35m and Dominik Szoboszlai from RB Leipzig for £60m last summer.

With the pair two of four players brought in as part of an £150m midfield revamp, club sources have since dismissed the possibility of the Reds signing such a player in January. But with Thiago Alcantara out of contract at the end of the season, an additional engine-room recruit in the future cannot be ruled out.

When plotting the aforementioned overhaul, Guimaraes was a player of interest. The ECHO reported last year that Liverpool’s recruitment team are huge admirers of the midfielder but conceded any move for the Brazilian would almost certainly be a non-starter. Now, after Eales’ admission, it appears things might have changed.

Of course, the Reds’ admiration for Guimaraes is nothing new. Sky Sports’ Melissa Reddy told the The Anfield Wrap in the summer of 2022 that the Brazilian would be their go-to signing if they could choose anyone they wanted.

“There are a lot of names in that bracket (of players Liverpool like who are unavailable), even here within the Premier League,” she said. “If there was a blank canvas and Liverpool could sign anyone without any restrictions, so availability wasn’t an issue, the club he was at wasn’t an issue, all of those things, it would be Bruno (Guimaraes) from Newcastle.

“But somebody at City said similar, that they can’t believe that Newcastle got that deal. And for only £40m, that’s going to look like an absolute steal and already it’s shaping up to be that way. He’s a remarkable player, really phenomenal.”

Capable of playing as a number six and a number eight, it is easy to see why Liverpool are fans of the 26-year-old. He joined Howe’s side from Lyon in a £40m deal from Lyon in January 2022, and has arguably been their standout signing since being taken over by the PIF the previous October.

His eye-catching form for Newcastle, registering 11 goals and nine assists from 86 appearances and helping take them back into the Champions League after a 20-year absence, has inevitably resulted in interest from elsewhere.

While he doesn’t quite possess a for sale sign around his neck, he is not unobtainable. And while the possibility of Liverpool signing Guimaraes might have looked like a non-starter back in the summer, Newcastle’s softened stance has changed things if the Reds did wish to look again at the player their recruitment team admires the most.


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