Newcastle are ready to make an approach to Sheffield Wednesday as they attempt to appoint Steve Bruce as Rafael Benitez’s replacement.
PA understands the 58-year-old Owls boss is the man at the top of the Magpies’ shortlist and that formal contact is imminent, with the club due to embark on their Premier League Asia Trophy trip to China on Saturday.
It is understood they would have to pay compensation of around £1million to release the Corbridge-born former Manchester United defender from his current contract.
Should Newcastle push home their interest, the former Sunderland manager will have a job on his hands to win over supporters still furious at Benitez’s departure, with some planning fresh protests over owner Mike Ashley’s controversial approach to running the club.
A series of fans groups have joined forces to call for a boycott of the opening fixture of the new Premier League season against Arsenal at St James’ on Sunday, August 11.
In addition Bruce, who has been linked with the Magpies in the past, would face the task of rebuilding a squad which has been shorn of leading scorer Ayoze Perez, striker partner Salomon Rondon, out-of-contract midfielder Mohamed Diame and loan signings Kenedy and Antonio Barreca since the end of the last campaign.
While sources on Tyneside have insisted the £30million Leicester paid for Perez will be re-invested in the squad, a new manager will have to attract players to a club with an increasingly toxic reputation while operating under the restrictions which prompted Benitez to reject a contract extension and head for Chinese club Dalian Yifang instead.
Bruce is being targeted with 10 days having elapsed since the Spaniard’s contract expired, with a series of potential candidates, including Jose Mourinho, Arsene Wenger, Patrick Vieira, Steven Gerrard and Chris Wilder, who signed a new long-term contract with Sheffield United on Tuesday evening, having distanced themselves from the job.
He played down the rumours when asked about them at Wednesday’s pre-season training camp in Portugal.
He told the Sheffield Star: “It’s news to me. God only knows what happened on Tuesday afternoon. John Terry was favourite yesterday. It was Mikel Arteta the day before, so who knows?
“As far as I am concerned, I am here, I am going home tomorrow and looking forward to walking the dog.”
Bruce was appointed by the Owls in February, four months after parting company with Aston Villa, who subsequently went on to clinch promotion via the Championship play-offs under successor Dean Smith.
Meanwhile, Benitez has aimed a thinly-disguised barb at Ashley in a blog looking back over his first week as manager of Dalian.
He wrote: “I must say that I have had more meetings with the chairman, the president and the general manager this week than I had in three years at Newcastle.”
Edu has returned to Arsenal to become the club’s first technical director.
The 41-year-old played for the Gunners between 2001 and 2005 and formed part of Arsene Wenger’s unbeaten ‘Invincibles’ Premier League champions of 2004.
It was announced on Tuesday that the former Brazil midfielder would take on the new role at Emirates Stadium.
“In his role as technical director, Edu will coordinate the work of our first-team coaching group, the academy and player scouting and recruitment in order to oversee the constant building up and efficient strengthening of our squad,” Arsenal said in the statement confirming the deal.
Edu made 127 appearances for Arsenal and scored 12 goals and would go on to play under current Gunners head coach Unai Emery at Valencia.
He will link up with Emery and his players later this week when they travel to the United States to begin their pre-season tour after leaving a similar role with the Brazil national side following their Copa America success.
“Arsenal has always had a special place in my heart and I’m thrilled to be returning to this great club in this new role,” he said.
“We have a strong squad and some very talented young players with fantastic people at every level. I’m looking forward to helping make a difference.”
Edu lifted two Premier League titles and two FA Cup trophies during his time in north London and also has previous experience of working in a technical role at Corinthians.
It is believed he played a role in helping Arsenal land the signing of highly-rated Brazilian forward Gabriel Martinelli, the 18-year-old arriving from Ituano last week.
And there could be more transfer activity from the club in the coming days, with reports suggesting a deal for Saint-Etienne defender William Saliba is close to completion.
The 18-year-old Frenchman is expected to be loaned back to the Ligue 1 side for next season after signing for a reported £27 million and is seen as a long-term prospect by the powers that be at Arsenal.
Copy provided by Press Association Sport
Newcastle are considering Steve Bruce as a possible replacement for Rafael Benitez as they prepare to head off to China for the Premier League Asia Trophy.
PA understands the 58-year-old Sheffield Wednesday boss is one of a series of potential candidates to have been identified as managing director Lee Charnley looks to fill the gap left by the Spaniard.
The club has been without a manager since Benitez’s contract expired on June 30 and a series of big names, including Jose Mourinho, Arsene Wenger, Patrick Vieira and Steven Gerrard, have distanced themselves from the vacancy.
With the squad due to fly out to the Far East on Saturday to take part in the tournament – with Premier League champions Manchester City, Wolves and West Ham – bookmakers’ odds on Bruce taking over tumbled dramatically on Tuesday.
Bruce, who was linked with Newcastle in 2015, was appointed by the Owls in February four months after parting company with Aston Villa and guided the club to a 12th-place finish in the Sky Bet Championship.
The Corbridge-born former Manchester United defender is a Geordie who has managed arch-rivals Sunderland as well as Sheffield United, Huddersfield, Wigan, Crystal Palace, Birmingham and Hull with varying degrees of success.
Newcastle’s search for a new boss has been complicated by the ongoing takeover process with owner Mike Ashley having been engaged in talks with a series of potential buyers, including the Dubai-based Sheikh Khaled Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, for weeks.
However, no deal is yet in place and the fact that Charnley has been instructed to find a manager suggests that the situation is unlikely to change in the short term.
Whoever does accept the task of stepping into Benitez’s shoes will face a major task to calm yet more stormy waters on Tyneside following another summer of turmoil.
The Spaniard’s departure has sparked further talk of rebellion among sections of a fanbase which has been at war with Ashley for much of his time at the helm, but there has been upheaval too in the squad.
Leicester’s £30million swoop for Ayoze Perez last week has seen the club’s leading scorer follow the runner-up, Salomon Rondon, who has returned to parent club West Brom, with midfielder Mohamed Diame and loan signings Kenedy and Antonio Barreca having already left.
Manchester United are expected to formalise their interest in midfielder Sean Longstaff in the coming days, while Isaac Hayden has made no secret of his desire to quit St James’ Park for family reasons.
That would leave the new manager without as much as half of what might be considered his strongest team.
With the first game of the new season – the Magpies entertain Arsenal on August 11 – a little more than a month away, there is serious rebuilding work to do before the transfer window closes if the club is to avoid another tooth-and-nail scrap for top-flight survival.
Just how much control a new manager would have over that process under Ashley’s regime could dictate who the club is able to recruit.
Copy provided by Press Association Sport