Newcastle United are reportedly lining up a January swoop for Burnley central defender Ben Mee.
According to The Sun, Newcastle United boss Eddie Howe wants to bring the experienced defensive duo of Ben Mee and James Tarkowski from Burnley as the Magpies look for major defensive reinforcements in the January transfer window.
Newcastle finally secured their first win of the Premier League in their 15th attempt on Saturday, beating the Clarets 1-0 at St. James’ Park in a tense game. While it was a real sigh of relief for the Toon faithful, they are still a long way from safety. The result brings them level on points with their two rivals in the bottom three, but the forthcoming fixture list is dreadful.
Newcastle will face Leicester, Liverpool, Manchester City and Manchester United in quick succession this month and can find themselves back in the slump come January. Defensive vulnerability has been a major concern for them this season as they boast the second-worst defensive record in the division, having conceded 30 goals.
The Magpies are, thus, exploring the market for proven Premier League defenders to boost their survival bid. Newcastle have recently been linked with a January move for Burnley defender Tarkowski. And it seems that they have added his teammate to their shortlist, with Howe keen on bringing Mee as well.
Mee progressed through the ranks at Manchester City, and interestingly, it was Howe who brought Mee to Burnley permanently back in 2012 following an impressive loan spell. Since then, the English centre-back has proven to be an amazing servant for the Clarets’ over the years, featuring in over 360 competitive appearances, building a formidable defensive partnership alongside Tarkowski.
The 32-year-old’s leadership, anticipation and aerial dominance at the heart of the backline have been pivotal in helping the Clarets’ retain their Premier League status in recent years under Sean Dyche. In this campaign, he has made 10 appearances, and his underlying defensive numbers have been very decent, as he averages 1 tackle, 1.2 interceptions, 3.9 clearances and 1 block per game, while he has also chipped in with a couple of goals.
Although the Burnley skipper would be a decent addition to Magpies’ ranks and would make them much harder to break down, his average on-ball abilities and lack of pace make him an unattractive pick. His attributes do not suit Eddie Howe’s build-from-the-back philosophy. Overall, he would not be a big improvement on their current roster of underperforming defenders.
Meanwhile, Burnley are adamant about keeping hold of their captain, having suffered in his absence on the pitch, making it very unlikely that they sell either player of their best defensive duo midway through the season, especially to a relegation rival in Newcastle. Additionally, as per Transfermarkt, they hold the option to extend Mee’s deal by another year. And it is difficult to see Burnley not exercising that option.
Elsewhere, Newcastle are looking to pounce for Atletico Madrid star Kieran Trippier, who would cost around £25 million and demand big wages. It remains to be seen whether any of these touted moves come to fruition for the Tyneside club in January.