Fulham open talks to sign Newcastle United loanee Matt Targett

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FULHAM have joined the race to sign Matt Targett this summer, with Newcastle United boss Eddie Howe still assessing whether or not to turn the full-back’s move from Aston Villa into a permanent transfer.

Targett has been a huge success since joining Newcastle on loan in January, with his reliable performances at left-back having been a key factor in the overall defensive improvement that was apparent in the second half of the season.

The 26-year-old started all of Newcastle’s matches after arriving from Villa Park, bar the game against his permanent employers, and the loan agreement that was thrashed out when he moved at the start of the year contains a clause that enables the Magpies to complete a permanent transfer for around £ 15m this summer.

There is still a chance Howe could opt to trigger the arrangement, although there are complications on both sides that could yet prevent a deal taking place. Newcastle’s recruitment team have been monitoring alternative left-back options, and are understood to have a growing interest in Atletico Madrid defender Renan Lodi and Bayer Leverkusen full-back Mitchel Bakker. At the same time, former Southampton trainee Targett is believed to be keen to move closer to his family, who remain based on the south coast.

“I think it’s a difficult one to give any direction on, in respect to his club,” said Howe, when asked about Targett’s position in the wake of Newcastle’s season-ending win at Burnley. “So, we’ll wait and see.”

The uncertainty has created an opportunity for other clubs to initiate discussions of their own, and Fulham officials have made contact with the Aston Villa hierarchy and Targett’s representatives to outline their interest in securing a deal.

The Cottagers intend to strengthen their defense significantly in the wake of their promotion from the Championship, with Marco Silva keen to prioritize the purchase of some tried-and-tested Premier League performers who can add some much-needed top-flight experience to his squad .

Targett would fit that bill, and Fulham are willing to match the terms agreed by Newcastle when their loan arrangement was finalized in January.

Villa boss Steven Gerrard is expected to sanction Targett’s permanent departure this summer, with Lucas Digne having established himself as the first-choice left-back at Villa Park, and Fulham are hoping to tie up a deal before the transfer window official reopens.

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In an ideal world, Howe would like to wrap up a significant chunk of his own transfer business before the start of July, but despite the season only having ended at the weekend, the Magpies head coach is already encountering a few difficulties.

He is keen to land long-term attacking target Hugo Ekitike, but faces a major battle after Borussia Dortmund identified the teenage striker as one of their preferred replacements for Erling Haaland.

Newcastle officials agreed the framework of a deal worth around £ 26m with Reims in late January, but Ekitike backed out of a possible move to St James’ Park on deadline day insisting he did not feel ready to leave France. He will almost certainly be moving on this summer, and Newcastle have lined up a fresh approach, having received strong indications from Reims that they are prepared to do business on broadly the same terms that were agreed in January.

However, the situation has been complicated by competing interest from Borussia Dortmund, who need to replace Haaland after the Norwegian agreed a £ 51m move to Manchester City.

They have already signed 20-year-old Germany international Karim Adeyemi from Red Bull Salzburg, but are also keen to land Ekitike as part of a major summer overhaul.

Talks continue with Sean Longstaff over a new deal, with Howe optimistic an agreement will be reached soon.

“Has he signed his contract yet? No, ”said Howe. “But I anticipate we can come to a successful conclusion soon on that one.”

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