Lille defender Sven Botman “desperately wanted” a January move to Newcastle United and Manchester United’s Jesse Lingard was also keen on a switch, according to Magpies co-owner Amanda Staveley.
Both players were linked with the St. James’ Park club in the mid-season window, as Eddie Howe’s side kicked off a recruitment drive to try and stave off the threat of relegation.
Lille’s 22-year-old centre-back Botman, who has also been linked with Tottenham (opens in new tab)and AC Milan, was one of Newcastle’s (opens in new tab)major targets, along with England international Lingard, but neither move went through despite apparent interest from the players.
“We had to encourage players – ‘we’ll be a safe place for you, we’ll deliver and grow’. Some desperately wanted to come to us, like Sven, who still does very much and has talked very openly about that,” Staveley told The Athletic. (opens in new tab)
“Coming through all that showed us we can do it, that we can stick to our plan and if we get criticised on the last day for ‘oh, you’re going after Jesse’, well, Jesse wanted to come to us.
“We did everything. We never stopped. From the start to the finish, we did not stop working.”
Although the deals for Botman and Lingard didn’t go ahead, Newcastle brought in five players in January: Kieran Trippier, Chris Wood, Bruno Guimaraes, Dan Burn and Matt Targett.
The arrival of the quintet certainly provided a boost, as Newcastle are now unbeaten in seven league games, winning four of the last five.
That run of form has lifted them into 14th place, four points clear of the drop zone.
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Alasdair Mackenzie is a freelance journalist based in Rome, and a FourFourTwo contributor since 2015. When not pulling on the FFT shirt, he can be found at Reuters, The Times and the i. An Italophile since growing up on a diet of Football Italia on Channel 4, he now counts himself among thousands of fans sharing a passion for Ross County and Lazio.
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