Newcastle United retain an interest in Southampton defender Mohammed Salisu after missing out on a January deal following Saints’ change of ownership.

According to 90min, Ghanaian defender Mohammed Salisu was apparently the subject of a £40 million verbal transfer agreement between Newcastle United and Southampton, but the change of ownership at St. Mary’s meant the Saints pulled the plug early on the winter transfer window.

Newcastle’s frustrating quest for a new central defender during the January transfer window was exhaustive and well-documented. Brighton defender Dan Burn was eventually the only addition brought through the door to boost the porous backline, as the Englishman secured a return to his boyhood club.

Over the course of a frantic month, there had been links with Southampton’s Salisu, among many others, with rumours flying all over the place. The report claims that Magpies made a play for the Ghanaian central defender. Newcastle’s head of recruitment Steve Nickson wanted to sign Salisu from Southampton early in the January transfer window to improve their leaky defence.

The initial discussions between the clubs over a potential transfer for the 22-year-old progressed well with a £40 million fee including add-ons and bonuses being agreed upon. Eddie Howe’s side were hopeful of completing the move in the first week of January until Southampton’s change of ownership, with the new Dragan Solak-led hierarchy wasting no time in rejecting the deal in place altogether.

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Salisu spent his formative the African Talent Football Academy in Ghana before joining Real Valladolid’s academy in 2017. Despite his tender years, he performed admirably in his breakout campaign for the Valladolid side that finished mid-table. His signing looked to be quite a coup for Saints when they fended off the competition from Real Madrid and Manchester United to secure his services.

Yet he hardly featured in his first campaign on the south coast and had a relatively slow start to his Premier League career, majorly struggling with fitness and injury issues. However, the departure of Jannik Vestergaard to Leicester City meant Salisu has now established himself as a mainstay in Ralph Hasenhuttl’s defence, starting 20 of his 21 Premier League appearances so far this term.

The Ghanaian has been one of the Saints’ top performers this season and earned plaudits for his superb display in the 1-1 draw with Manchester City in the Premier League. He is really thriving in Hasenhuttl’s very dynamic, intense and all-action playing style. And he has the numbers to back his splendid displays, averaging about 3 tackles, 3 interceptions and an astounding 5.6 clearances per 90.

To put that into context, he ranks among the top five percentile of centre-backs for tackles and interceptions in the Big 5 European leagues. No wonder he was courted by the Magpies, who are scouting for a promising up-and-coming centre-back as they intend to build a young team to contend with the European bigwigs.

At just 22 years old and already impressing in the English top-flight, Salisu fits that profile and is an option worth revisiting in the summer should the Toon stay up in the Premier League this term. The Southampton ace is under contract at St. Mary’s until 2024, and a tempting offer from the Magpies next summer could be an appealing proposition for the player.

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