Brighton are braced for another bid for their central defender Dan Burn from Newcastle before the transfer window’s closure on Monday night.
By then Eddie Howe should have added the Lyon midfielder Bruno Guimarães to his squad as well as, potentially, a left-back and a striker, with Arsenal’s Eddie Nketiah high on his list.
Newcastle’s manager has prioritised recruiting at least one centre-half. He believes the 6ft 7in, 29-year-old Burn could help his side avoid relegation and is expected to persuade the St James’ Park board to increase the £8m offer rejected by Brighton this week.
Burn, born in Blyth, Northumberland, grew up supporting Newcastle and is believed to be keen on a move to the north-east and a return to the region where he played for Blyth Spartans and Darlington.
Coincidentally he has recently been in the best form of his time at Brighton, contributing to some impressive results for Graham Potter’s side. Although Potter would like to keep him, a fee in excess of £10m from a Newcastle board frustrated in their pursuit of Lille’s Sven Botman and Sevilla’s Diego Carlos could alter that stance.
Steve Nickson, Newcastle’s head of recruitment, is in Brazil, finalising Guimarães’s £33m switch and Nketiah remains very much on the club’s radar, with the 22-year-old forward much admired by Howe who has been frustrated in a long-running pursuit of Manchester United’s Jesse Lingard.
Howe – who has signed the right-back Kieran Trippier and striker Chris Wood this month – has spent the past week at a training camp in Jeddah, where he and his players have met representatives of Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, the club’s majority owners.
Howe’s squad have met PIF officials informally at their Red Sea base and received “a motivational and inspirational” talk from Yasir al-Rumayyan, Newcastle’s chairman. “It was a great experience to hear his thoughts on the club and his vision and what the future looks like,” said the manager. “It was a motivational and inspirational talk based on collective aims and collective team spirit.
“We were all very impressed with what was said and the players left very enthused. A lot of people from the PIF have been here as well so it’s been a very good experience to bring everyone closer together.”
Asked about criticism of the trip to a country with a dismal human rights record where women frequently find themselves segregated, Howe maintained he was focusing on football. “I’m doing it from a football perspective to try and stimulate the players mentally in a new environment and to forge unity,” he said. “It’s a footballing trip.
“It’s been really good and the weather’s been really good. The lads had an afternoon on the sand with the local people and we’ve been go-karting, doing a lot of other sports and we attended a Saudi v Oman World Cup qualifier with some staff and players. But training’s been the priority.”