Newcastle United scouts told to plan for no Saudi takeover – as all eyes turn to Serbian international

Newcastle United scouts have been told to plan for life without a Saudi takeover as an audacious loan move for Real Madrid misfit Luka Jovic is weighed up.

Thursday, 23rd July 2020, 5:00 pm

The Echo understands the Magpies’ scouting department are assessing the merits of the struggling Serbian, as they look to inject goals into Steve Bruce's side, with just FIVE scored by United's four strikers – Dwight Gayle, Joelinton, Andy Carroll and Yoshinori Muto – in the 2019/20 Premier League season so far.

Much sought-after Jovic has endured a challenging first season at the Bernabeu, following on from his £60 million move from Eintracht Frankfurt in the summer of 2019.

The seven times capped Serbia international has played second fiddle largely to Karim Benzema, who has been in blistering form, rolling back the years to net 27 goals in 42 games this season.

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PAMPLONA, SPAIN - FEBRUARY 09: Luka Jovic of Real Madrid celebrates with Federico Valverde after scoring his team's fourth goal during the La Liga match between CA Osasuna and Real Madrid CF at El Sadar Stadium on February 09, 2020 in Pamplona, Spain. (Photo by Juan Manuel Serrano Arce/Getty Images)

Jovic has also found it difficult to start ahead of the likes of Rodrygo and at times Gareth Bale, Eden Hazard, Vinicius Junior and Marco Asensio.

In total, the 22-year-old Bijeljina-born forward has scored just two goals in nine starts for Los Blancos, making 19 appearances off the bench.

But that does not necessarily mean his stock has fallen around Europe – and even with Real manager Zinedine Zidane.

"Jovic is an obvious option. He is the future. He has to be calm. He is learning," said the Frenchman of his striker in January.

BRIGHTON, ENGLAND - JULY 20: Andy Carroll of Newcastle United reacts during the Premier League match between Brighton & Hove Albion and Newcastle United at American Express Community Stadium on July 20, 2020 in Brighton, England.

"He's a boy who wants to learn a lot. He's very good. He'll get a lot of goals. We've backed him, and you have to be calm with him."

A loan move for Jovic was touted in the winter window, but knocked back by Zidane, and could work out best for everyone interested this summer, with the football transfer market set to be severely depressed due to the impact of COVID-19 on the game.

Hertha Berlin have been credited with an interest in the Spanish press, while the likes of Napoli, AC Milan and Arsenal have also been mentioned in dispatches with regards the player's possible next destination.

"I would envisage our budget is not going to be as big as what it was going to be in January before all this started," he said prior to the Brighton game.

"There are big discussions to be had but we are still always trying to go and find another player or two or three or four.

"And that’s always going to be my job – will knock on and break down the door because my job is to make sure we are competitive when we start up again.”

Bruce has also underlined United's want to add a striker in the transfer window, which opens on Monday.

"I’ve always said with Joelinton, I think he’s better playing to a side, that suits him, so it’s quite possible that a centre-forward could be on the list, yeah," said the manager in the aftermath of the 0-0 Amex Stadium stalemate.

It is not known whether Real are yet willing to cut their losses on the striker, who was a Bundesliga sensation the season before last, scoring 27 goals for Frankfurt alongside West Ham United flop and former United target Sebastien Haller.

Next month Real play Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium in the Champions League last 16 second leg, in what could be their final game of the 2019/20 season, as they look to overturn a 2-1 deficit. Having returned from a broken foot, Jovic could be involved in the north west after taking part in the final two La Liga games of the campaign.

Ex-Red Star Belgrade and Benfica forward Jovic was named in Spanish publication Marca's worst XI of the season due to his stuttering start in the famous shirt, despite the fact Real edged out Barcelona for the title.

Meanwhile, the takeover of Newcastle United by PCP Capital Partners, Reuben Brothers and the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia remains with the Premier League, who are still to give a decision on the deal as part of their owners and directors test.

Yet more allegations, developments and delays has caused frustration to grow on both sides of the takeover divide, with fans in the middle equally as unsettled by the process.

And while the club's current ownership did not expect to still be in possession of the football club at this stage of the summer, Newcastle's scouting team have been told to identify players for Bruce and his coaches next season, working on the proviso there will be no changeover at the top.

Of course, that could all change if the Premier League present their conclusion to buyer and seller in the protracted takeover saga, which has now run for 105 days.