Newcastle United weigh up cut-price swoop for Fulham target Johnny Russell
According to The Sun, Newcastle are weighing up a cut-price swoop to sign Sporting Kansas City forward Johnny Russell against rival interest from Fulham and Sheffield United.
Russell has emerged as a potential option for the Magpies ahead of the summer transfer window as Steve Bruce strives to add goals around Callum Wilson, having relied heavily on the former AFC Bournemouth striker this season.
Fulham and Sheffield United are also eager to explore whether Russell will leave Sporting KC as they prepare vast rebuilds of their respective squads, while knowing budgets will be tight as a result of the pandemic ahead of their return to being Championship clubs.
Newcastle have also long been expected to primarily target free transfers and loans with funds for transfers likely to be minimal (Chronicle), having made little match day revenue in the past 12 months.
Russell would suit a side that is forced to operate on a shoestring budget this summer, as he has entered the final year of his contract and will be a free agent come the end of the Major League Soccer season in December.
Newcastle would be expected to win the race for the 31-year-old’s signature if Bruce’s side were to step up their interest given the allure of Premier League football, which he never experienced during his five-years with Derby County between 2013 and 2018.
Expectations among Newcastle supporters will have to be realistic with the lack of expected funds for transfers, but Russell could offer a solid – if unspectacular – pick-up, having been a consistent performer and goal threat over his years with Sporting KC.
The 14-cap Scotland international has been involved in 51 goals across all competitions for the Children’s Mercy Park outfit in 101 career games, scoring 27 and assisting 24, and was named as the Wizards’ captain by head coach Peter Vermes in March.
“I think it was a very simple decision. Johnny has natural leadership qualities,” Vermes said, via The Kansas City Star, before adding: “It has to be someone that the players respect.”
Vermes has also previously lauded Russell for being a “warrior” who’s tough “physically and also mentally” (sportingkc.com), which, together, would be expected to see the long-time Championship attacker offer Bruce a worthwhile option at Newcastle next season for low expense.
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