Inter Milan midfielder Valentino Lazaro is open to the potential of joining Newcastle United permanently following his half-season on loan, according to the Shields Gazette.
Lazaro is understood to have enjoyed his time on Tyneside so far, despite being restricted in what fixtures he could partake in due to his initial illegibility in the FA Cup and an avoidable red card against Crystal Palace.
The suspension ensured the 5 ft 10 Austrian was not to hand when Steve Bruce named his line-up at home to Burnley last month, while the boss only opted to lean on Lazaro as a substitute in the following Premier League meeting at Southampton.
Bruce had fielded Lazaro in the starting squad against West Bromwich Albion in the FA Cup Fifth Round win earlier this month, which resulted in the 28-cap international recording his first Magpies goal when he connected with Allan Saint-Maximin’s cross.
Lazaro is also believed to have developed close ties with a number of key figures in the Newcastle United dressing room, as well as earning more regular game time after a difficult start to life as an Inter player – having only been awarded 323 Serie A minutes following his €22million (£20.4m) switch from Hertha BSC.
However, the winger is not completely settled on a permanent move to St. James’ Park just yet, as Lazaro is still open-minded on his club future following reports he longs for a return to the San Siro.
Newcastle have an option to buy clause inserted in our loan deal with Inter for Lazaro, with some reports claiming the fee to be worth £19.75m on top of the £1.25m paid to facilitate the temporary side of the transfer.
Other reports have suggested Lazaro could cost as much as €25m (£23.1m) all-in should we look to purchase the Austrian, who penned a €1.5m-a-year (£26,703-per-week) contract upon his arrival in Italy last summer.
Lazaro’s Nerazzurri contract runs until the summer of 2023, and United taking on his present terms would not be too much of a stretch given Karl Darlow (£25k-p/w), Rob Elliot (£25k-p/w), Isaac Hayden (£22k-p/w) and Jamie Sterry (£2k-p/w) are the only first-team players currently earning less at St. James’ Park.
Would you back a permanent move for Lazaro?
The benefits of a deal that could represent up to €29.5m (£27.3m) all-in are questionable, though, given Lazaro has only scored in the FA Cup against lower league opposition, was teased by Arsenal’s Bukayo Saka before the 18-year-old assisted Nicolas Pepe, and was tormented by Wilfried Zaha before being sent off at Palace.
In other Newcastle United news, the club have been given a free path to sign a 29-cap international this summer.