According to a report in the Daily Mail, Newcastle United has agreed to a $22 million fee with Belgian club Anderlecht over the transfer of 20-year-old striker Aleksandar Mitrovic.
Rumored to be on the radar of many top Premier League clubs, including Arsenal, whom he scored against in the Champions League, Mitrovic could be headed to St. James Park in what would be a significant signing for the Magpies currently in turmoil.
The club still must stave off relegation for rumors of this kind to hold any water, sitting just two points above the drop zone, and while a trip to the Championship would surely kill off any kind of potential deal, even safety at this point may not be enough. Anderlecht is coming off a good showing in the Champions League and has qualified for the Europa League group stage next season with a third-place finish in the Jupiler Pro League, so Mitrovic will likely be looking for European play of some kind in his near future.
The Serbian striker scored 24 goals in 46 matches across all competitions for Anderlecht this season, including 17 in 33 league matches and two more in five Champions League games. He came to the Belgian league from Serbian side Partizan Belgrade in 2013 in a $5.5 million deal, and now must still agree to terms for any deal to be completed.
The Daily Mail report suggests Newcastle is recruiting the Belgian league hard for hidden talent, but may fall short. They are also reportedly after Gent midfielder Kara Mbodj, but after winning the league’s playoff and qualifying directly to the Champions League group stage, it’s hard to see the 25-year-old hard-hitter leaving for a side not even in Europe. The article also mentions Marseille’s Florian Thauvin as a possibility, but again the 22-year-old would be stepping down from European play to make that move.
Newcastle has ambitious scouting targeting, and should these rumors serve to be true they’re certainly encouraging for Magpie fans, but ultimately the appear to be longshots at the moment, even with the fee agreed upon. It’s now up to the current management to convince Mitrovic otherwise.
UPDATE: The Daily Mail has apparently back-tracked on its earlier report that a fee was agreed upon, calling it a “suggestion” and saying Anderlecht denied the report.