St James' Park
NEWCASTLE United are taking a close look at Marseille’s France Under-19 international defender Christophe Lowinsky.
After releasing a raft of first-year professionals, United are eager to bolster their squad options and are looking at talent from all over Europe – with the idea of developing rough diamonds into first-team players.
And Marseille reserve Lowinsky – who was snapped up by the French giants at the age of 18 – fits the bill. The 20-year-old has six caps for France at various underage levels and has impressed at second string and youth level for the Ligue 1 side.
The Journal understands that Lowinsky, who has played most of his football in the Marseille B team, has been invited for a trial at United’s Benton base and would be available for transfer at the end of the season. He is understood to be in a club property in the North East at the moment.
He is known to influential chief scout Graham Carr and would be a similar kind of signing to Romain Amalfitano, the 22-year-old French midfielder who will give Alan Pardew other options as the club looks to cope with the additional strains of a European campaign next term.
Lowinsky is a strong, 6ft 2in defender who was born in the French overseas region of Martinique. Just last month he made his international debut for the tiny nation in a 1-0 defeat of Guadeloupe but, as the game was only a friendly, he would still be available to play for France at a later stage of his career.
Courtesy of the superb efforts of Pardew and his players, Newcastle have managed to steal a march on their five-year plan by securing European football a year ahead of schedule.
But that creates problems of its own, and United will continue their efforts to strengthen the foundations of the club while trying to mount another challenge for Champions League football next term.
That means they will continue to search for talented, available players who
can be developed by United’s coaching team over the next few years.
That process is already underway. United began inviting players for trial shortly after deciding to cull their reserve team and there is likely to be a number of low-key arrivals at the club over the summer months.
The recruitment drive is likely to be led by Amalfitano, who is understood to have agreed a three-and-half-year deal at Newcastle. The transfer – from French second tier club Stade de Reims – is likely to be confirmed after the end of the season.
Although there will be a sense of expectation about United’s recruit-ment this summer, they will not deviate from the policy of wringing top value from the transfer market – and with a top prize of just £3million the Europa League will not be a lucrative diversion for the Magpies.
Changes are planned though. Targets include Lille right-back Mathieu Debuchy and FC Twente defender Douglas, with United understood to have already made contact with the Dutch side over the defender. A reported bid of £5million has been tabled.
Pardew is also pressing for a new left-back and a striker, with FC Twente’s Luuk de Jong another linked with a move to Tyneside.
Newcastle are likely to need to fill several gaps in the squad this summer, with Peter Løvenkrands almost certain to depart the club in the close season. He carried out a solo lap of honour on Sunday and left the pitch in tears – an indication that the forward’s four-year association with the club is drawing to a close. Danny Guthrie is also heading for the exit door, with Aston Villa the likely destination now that they have almost certainly secured their Premier League status.
Others who may be moving on include Nile Ranger and Danny Simpson, who was linked with a move away over the weekend. There have been no fresh contract negotiations and United may opt to cash in on the former Manchester United full-back if he does not come back to the table – although Simpson wants to stay.