Despite currently boasting the best defensive record in the Premier League – with just 13 top-flight goals conceded this season – Newcastle United may well be looking to strengthen their centre-back ranks this summer, with manager Eddie Howe lacking quality depth beyond the starting duo of Fabian Schar and Sven Botman.
That has led to an apparent interest in Bayer Leverkusen starlet, Piero Hincapie, with recent reports claiming that the Magpies could be set to rival Tottenham Hotspur for the 21-year-old’s signature.
The Ecuadorian international is not the only figure from the Bundesliga side that the Tynesiders are said to be targeting, however, amid suggestions that Hincapie’s teammate and fellow defender Jonathan Tah is also on the club’s radar.
What’s the latest on Jonathan Tah to Newcastle?
90min reported last week that Newcastle – as well as Liverpool – have held talks regarding a move for the 6 foot 5 colossus, with the 27-year-old believed to be interested in the possibility of making a move to England in the ‘near future.
The piece suggests that Howe and co have spoken to ‘intermediaries’ about the centre-back’s situation, with the 16-cap titan having just over two years left to run on his existing deal at the BayArena.
Could Tah replace Jamaal Lascelles at Newcastle?
This search for a new defensive recruit comes amid the uncertainty surrounding the future of club captain Jamaal Lascelles, with the Englishman having been tipped for a departure from St James’ Park ahead of the January transfer window.
While no such exit materialised, the 29-year-old’s declining status has been emphasised by the fact that he has made just one top-flight start so far this season, having fallen way down the pecking order in recent times.
As pundit Alan Hutton stated back in November, the club appear to have “moved on” from the former Nottingham Forest man, with it looking as if the £40k-per-week dud is only heading in one direction – out of the door.
That potential exit could seemingly be hastened if the aforementioned Tah is to be signed ahead of the next season, with the Hamburg native likely to prove an upgrade on Lascelles in the centre of defence.
Lauded as a defensive “battleship” in the past by compatriot Christoph Kramer, the towering asset has impressed for Xabi Alonso’s side this season, notably averaging 3.7 clearances and 1.1 interceptions per game from his 20 league appearances, while Lascelles has averaged just 2.5 and 0.3 for those same two metrics, respectively, from his four top-flight outings.
That difference in quality is also illustrated by the fact that Tah appears to provide more composure in possession as he ranks in the top 16% in Europe among those in his position for pass completion, while the Magpies man ranks in just the bottom 1% in that regard – albeit while having featured sporadically.
Previously described as “one of Germany’s best defenders” back in 2018 by Leverkusen sporting director Rudi Voller, the imposing powerhouse would provide a wealth of experience to Howe’s side, having made 284 appearances for his current club – scoring eight goals and providing 11 assists.
With it looking as if Lascelles is surplus to requirements at present, Newcastle could finally ditch their struggling skipper by bringing in Tah this summer.