Newcastle United’s investment drive in the academy shows no signs of slowing judging by the latest transfer links. Reports suggest the Magpies are closing in on a deal for A-League wonderkid Garang Kuol, despite the in-demand teenager being linked to Barcelona and Chelsea.
Newcastle bolstered their youth ranks with four signings over the summer, with deals confirmed for Jordan Hackett, Charlie McArthur, Alex Murphy, Jude Smith. A move for Kuol would be something of a statement, given the 17-year-old has just received a surprise senior call-up for Australia ahead of the World Cup.
However, the Central Coast Mariners attacker is not the only rising star Newcastle have been linked with in recent weeks. The Magpies are looking to sign Chris Rigg from arch-rivals Sunderland, and are also said to be in the hunt for Cole McKinnon and Lennon Miller of Rangers and Motherwell respectively.
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Magpies co-owner Amanda Staveley confirmed ‘a lot of investment’ was needed in the academy shortly after the takeover, with sporting director Dan Ashworth appointed to oversee the development of all facets of the football operation. This emphasis on youth, shown by Newcastle’s summer business and potential deals this January, has also been repeated by new Chelsea owner Todd Boehly.
The Blues have reaped the rewards from their academy in recent seasons, with Reece James and Mason Mount making the grade at Stamford Bridge and Tammy Abraham succeeding overseas after a reported £34 million transfer to AS Roma. When asked how he plans to ‘add value’ to the club, Boehly pointed to the club’s youth setup.
Speaking at the SALT conference in New York City, Boehly said: “You figure out how to make the academy that is so top collaborate with the first team. You show players the pathway, you teach them about how you’re thinking about the future .
“You treat your players at the academy as academy products, not academy players. La Masia has done an amazing job. Of course, no-one can own Barcelona or Real Madrid or Bayern Munich for that matter. We think Chelsea is probably the biggest brand that one can own in sports worldwide.”
Boehly also outlined his vision to expand Chelsea’s ownership into a multi-club model, just four months on from the takeover being completed. Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund continues to be linked with a move for Inter Milan, but there have otherwise been no suggestions of Newcastle’s ownership group acquiring other football clubs in the near future.
Manchester City are the best domestic example of this model, with the City Football Group portfolio also including the likes of Melbourne City and New York City. Boehly believes the loan market helps mold future ‘superstars’, but has questioned the logic in leaving the development of these players to other clubs.
Boehly added: “We’ve talked about having a multi-club model. I would love to continue to build out the footprint. I think there’s different countries where there’s advantages to having a club.
“Red Bull does a really good job, they’ve got Leipzig and they’ve got Salzburg. Both of which are playing in the Champions League, so they’ve figured out how to make that work.
“You have Man City which has a very big network of clubs. I think the challenge that Chelsea has right now, or one of them, is when you have 18, 19, 20-year-old superstars, you can loan them out to other clubs but you put their development into someone else’s hands.
“I think our goal is to make sure we can show pathways for our young superstars to get on to the Chelsea pitch while getting them real game time. To me, the way to do that is through another club somewhere in a really competitive league in Europe.
“Because of Brexit, you have to think how am I going to get these players into England. We need GBEs which are basically points you get for playing in different leagues. Our job is to figure out how to put that platform together.”
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