EPL

Eddie Howe: Joelinton leaving Newcastle for free would have been ‘bad business’

By Sports Desk April 12, 2024

Eddie Howe admits Newcastle could not afford to allow “gentle giant” Joelinton to leave on a free transfer after they finally persuaded him to sign a new contract.

The 27-year-old Brazil international put pen to paper on a long-term deal on Thursday to end fears that he could leave the Magpies for nothing next summer despite becoming one of their most important players.

Ultimately, the two parties managed to reach agreement over a man whose value on and off the pitch had increased substantially during his time on Tyneside, although head coach Howe knows the financial implications of doing so may impact on his summer business as the club attempts to comply with profit and sustainability limits.

Howe said: “Of course something like this will have ramifications. You’re potentially lifting wages and that has an impact on your Financial Fair Play sheet.

“But the alternative is that Joe leaves on a free transfer, which for a player of his quality, would be really bad business from us.

“I think what has happened has alleviated that problem. But of course it maybe gives you problems elsewhere that you need to fix.”

Whatever the financial fall-out from tying up Joelinton’s future, the football reasons for doing so are obvious.

Under head coach Howe, a man who had been branded a flop following his then club record £40million switch from Hoffenheim as a striker during the summer of 2019, has established himself as a midfielder destroyer who played a key role in last season’s top-four Premier League finish.

He is currently working his way back from thigh tendon surgery – he may or may not play again before the end of the current campaign – and his absence has been particularly telling.

Securing the popular Brazilian at a time when interest in Bruno Guimaraes and Alexander Isak is mounting sends a message, Howe believes, that the club’s ambition remains intact.

He said: “It helps with the perception of our ambition and that we’re still desperate to grow and improve. For me, to do that you have to try to keep your best players, you have to try to create something that everyone wants to be part of.”

Howe thrust Joelinton into a midfield role after defender Ciaran Clark’s dismissal just nine minutes into a 1-1 draw with Norwich in his third game at the helm in November 2021, and he has not looked back since, building himself a reputation as a snarling enforcer, something far removed from his off-field character.

Howe said: “For the size and stature that he is and how aggressive he is on the pitch, he is a soft, gentle giant off it.”

Joelinton will be a frustrated bystander once again as the Magpies entertain Tottenham on Saturday hoping for a repeat of the corresponding fixture in April last year when they raced into a 5-0 lead after just 21 minutes before running out 6-1 winners.

Asked if he had been able to relax during that game, Howe, who has doubts over Lewis Hall and Joe Willock, said with a smile: “Let me tell you, I didn’t feel like that, not even for a second. Not when you’ve got Harry Kane on the other team.

“He then scores and you start looking at how long is left.”

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