Rafa Benitez is still yet to be announced as our manager going forward, but The Sun (page 52, June 5, via HITC) believe the Spaniard has a new centre-back target in mind for his next term at Newcastle.
It has been suggested the boss wants Mike Ashley to sign off on a deal which would bring Crystal Palace captain Scott Dann to St James’ Park, but the Eagles ace would demand a transfer fee of £6million.
We are already struggling to get a deal for Salomon Rondon through the door as our owner refuses to pay £16.5million for a 29-year-old who excelled on Tyneside, but the report suggests that is how much Palace would demand for their 32-year-old veteran defender.
Benitez reportedly sees the long-time Selhurst Park figure as an alternative to Florian Lejeune, as the Frenchman struggled with a persistent knee injury throughout the recently concluded season after suffering a cruciate ligament rupture during pre-season training.
Dann also struggled with a severe cruciate ligament rupture at the start of the season just gone, however, which likewise kept the Liverpool-born leader out of action until the New Year.
Roy Hodgson eventually began to reintroduce the former England U21 international to his plans toward the end of the campaign. But despite a string of seven starts in nine Premier League games, Dann’s term concluded with 13 appearances in all competitions to his name – totalling 930 minutes of action, 260 fewer than Lejeune managed having featured once more.
Lejeune, four years Dann’s younger, also averaged vastly more tackles, interceptions, and accurate long balls per ninety minutes in the Premier League, with the Palace man came up trumps in terms of clearances, blocks and aerial duels.