Tue 21 Nov 2023, 10:00 · Ash Harrison

Report: Newcastle’s number one January transfer target not going anywhere, he likely never was

Report: Newcastle’s number one January transfer target not going anywhere, he likely never was
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Newcastle United have been linked with a loan move for Al-Hilal midfielder Ruben Neves as a replacement for Sandro Tonali.

Ever since Sandro Tonali was handed a 10-month ban for his part in the Italian betting scandal, Ruben Neves' name has been in the frame as a potential replacement.

The reports all mention that the PIF owns Newcastle and Al-Hilal and the two clubs would happily get the deal done. It all seemed based on zero facts other than the connection between the clubs and a historic interest in the player, and now The Athletic has revealed that Ruben Neves is going nowhere in January.

Dan Ashworth knew what was coming

It all just feels like it was a clever move by Newcastle to test the waters.

Dan Ashworth was recently asked about loaning players from the Saudi Pro League and his response was telling. He mentioned how there was no rule in place to stop them, but left a telling pause that suggested he knew that something was coming down the line.

Lo and behold, a few days later it was revealed that the Premier League owners will be voting on a rule to temporarily block associated party transactions, essentially stopping Newcastle from being able to loan players from the Saudi Pro League's four PIF-owned clubs. That vote is taking place today.

Newcastle have played the Premier League like a fiddle

It is a clear and obvious move to block Newcastle from trying to pick up the Saudi Pro League's stars on loan as it has never been an issue before.

Now with The Athletic stating that Neves is settled in Saudi and a key part of Al-Hilal's squad, it just feels like Newcastle baited the hook, using a player they have a known interest in, leaking the story, and the other clubs chomped right down on it, showing themselves up as the petty force they are.

Meanwhile, Newcastle have likely been working to identify genuine targets in January while the rest of the Premier League sit and fume over the idea of Newcastle trying to loan Karim Benzema.