Matt Targett, Newcastle and Aston Villa’s thinking about a summer transfer

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Making Matt Targett’s loan move permanent appears, on the face of it, to be a straightforward and popular piece of business that Newcastle United could conclude early in the off-season.

Yet the Aston Villa left-back’s future remains unclear.

Here, The Athletic explains where Newcastle, Villa and Targett himself stand when it comes to the 26-year-old’s uncertain situation…


Where does Targett fit into Newcastle’s left-back search?

He remains prominent in Howe’s thoughts after excelling on Tyneside – but the indication is that, while Targett is seen as a reliable option, Newcastle are investigating deals for other, more attacking left-backs first.

It is understood that Howe held a meeting with Targett at Newcastle’s Benton training ground on Friday afternoon, and it is believed he informed the 26-year-old that a final decision on a permanent move has yet to be made. Newcastle have the framework of a transfer in place, for around £ 15 million, including the January loan fee, but it is unclear whether that agreement is deadline-dependent.

Asked about what would happen to Targett last Sunday, Howe said, “We’ll wait and see.”

Near the top of Howe’s wanted list is Renan Lodi, Atletico Madrid’s versatile and more offensive-minded Brazil international. The 24-year-old is thought to be open to moving to the Premier League, while Newcastle signed Kieran Trippier from Atletico in January, and dealt with one of Lodi’s agents, Giuliano Bertolucci, who represents Bruno Guimaraes.


Lodi played with Trippier and has the same agent as Guimaraes (Photo: Angel Martinez / Getty Images)

Still, Atletico will likely demand a significant fee and, with Newcastle keen to maximize their budget, which is restricted by Financial Fair Play (FFP), Steve Nickson, the head of recruitment, has been tracking other European-based left-backs.

Full-backs are crucial to the way Howe’s sides play and, at Bournemouth, they regularly enjoyed the most touches, as attacks were built down the flanks. The same is true at Newcastle; Trippier averages the most touches under Howe, with Targett third.

In January, Newcastle made approaches for Robin Gosens and Lucas Digne. Ironically, it was the latter’s arrival at Villa that facilitated Newcastle’s loan for Targett.

As competent a defender as Targett is, and as important a role as he has played in covering for Allan Saint-Maximin, who is a reluctant tracker down the left, he does not possess Trippier’s all-round game. Although Targett averages the fourth-most crosses per game under Howe, and takes corners, he failed to provide an assist, though his expected assists (xA) stood at 1.5.

Targett for Newcastle

Metric Stat

Appearances (sub)

16 (0)

Minutes played

1,440

Clean sheets

5

Tackles won per 90

1.6

Interceptions p90

1.6

Duels won p90

5.1

Crosses p90

4.8

Successful crosses p90

1.6

Chances created p90

1.3

Assists

0

Expected assists

1.5

Targett was signed to fulfill a specific role at a time when Newcastle needed Premier League experience and to strengthen their defense. As Howe looks to develop his relative style, acquiring a more progressive left-back to complement Trippier is at least being considered.

What’s more, Jamal Lewis will be given a chance to prove himself in pre-season, having been omitted from Newcastle’s 25-man squad due to a long-standing groin problem. Newcastle are yet to receive interest in the 24-year-old, and Howe believes he can extract more from the athletic defender now that he is back to fitness.

Paul Dummett has also been retained for another season and, while the 30-year-old has been hampered by injury issues, he provides a defensive option down the left and can play in a back three.

Targett may still be signed, because it is a deal that would be relatively cheap and easy to complete and Howe knows he is a dependable operator, but the head coach is still deliberating. Although, even if Newcastle do opt to try and acquire the left-back, there are two further parties to consider.


Where do Villa stand on Targett’s future?

If the right offer comes in this summer, then Villa will sell Targett.

In January, the decision to sign Digne, a France international with greater attacking qualities, was viewed as an easy one to make. Villa knew that not only would Digne improve their starting XI and fit into Steven Gerrard’s playing style, but his exit from Everton would also weaken a Premier League rival with similar ambitions of breaking into Europe.

Yet Digne’s arrival left Targett – Villa’s player’s player of the season in 2020-21 – as the fall guy.

Gerrard discussed the situation with Targett, explaining why he was bringing in an additional left-back. But Targett, aware of interest from elsewhere, decided to listen to those offers.

When Gerrard arrived in November, the plan was to continue building the squad, with a desire to ensure there were two senior, and almost equally talented, players competing for each position. Ideally, Villa would have kept Targett as a second choice, but with Ashley Young offering back-up and teenager Ben Chrisene breaking through, the decision was made to make do.

The hope at Villa Park was that Targett would perform well at Newcastle – which he has – and potentially increase his value.

Targett still has three years left on his contract and Gerrard said that, if the left-back decides to stay, he would be delighted because he will have “two top full-backs”.

However, in anticipation that Targett is likely to depart, Villa have already started their search for another left-back. They intend to spend less than the money they receive for Targett on a replacement.


What is Targett’s stance?

The 26-year-old opted to leave in search of first-team football in January and he is determined to play regularly next season – so he is keen on a summer move.

Targett told Howe last week that he would be receptive to discussing a potential return, while he has strongly suggested publicly that he wants to make his loan to Newcastle permanent.

“I think everyone knows what I want but it’s up to the club,” Targett told NUFCTV earlier this month. “It’s a massive project, an exciting project. I’ve loved every single minute of it. ”

But, as Newcastle dally, Targett has rival Premier League options to consider.

A move back to Fulham, where he spent six months on loan in 2018, would appeal. He still has links in the south of England and was settled there. Targett was born in Eastleigh, Hampshire, and is a product of Southampton’s academy.

While St James’ Park remains a potential permanent destination, the left-back is exploring his alternatives and may not wait as Newcastle deliberate on their summer strategy.

(Top photo: Serena Taylor / Newcastle United via Getty Images)

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