Newcastle United pip Sunderland to signing of highly-rated Liverpool youngster
Sunderland have been pipped to the signing of Liverpool youngster Niall Brookwell – by derby rivals Newcastle United.
The 19-year-old has opted to join the Magpies after they beat off competition for his signature from a number of clubs.
Brookwell, who sprung to attention under Steven Gerrard in the Liverpool academy, has penned a two-year deal at St James’s Park and will go into the Under-23s set-up.
Sunderland had made him one of their main summer targets as they look to rebuild their Under-23 set-up, with academy recruitment chief Ged McNamee keen on bringing the midfielder to the Academy of Light.
However, having initially been at the front of the queue, the stasis at the club meant Newcastle could leapfrog the Black Cats to sign the Wigan-born player.
McNamee is understood to have pitched Brookwell to former academy chief Paul Reid and Richard Hill, the head of football operations, as part of a 12-strong wishlist aimed at bolstering Sunderland’s second string after a poor season.
However, none of the targets have been signed off on, and with Reid, Hill and head of recruitment Tony Coton having all left the club in the last couple of weeks, any incomings to the U23 set-up have been put on further hold.
Brookwell, a box-to-box midfielder, was highly-rated at Liverpool where he has been since the age of nine. He was handed his Under-18 debut as a 15-year-old by Gerrard but a series of injuries over the last 12 months has stalled his progress.
He will go into Newcastle’s Under-23 set-up under the management of Chris Hogg, where he will hope to progress alongside the likes of Jack Young, who found himself on the bench for United’s Premier League game against Manchester City this month.
Burnley and Crystal Palace were also keeping tabs on the player, who had been keen on Sunderland as he felt there may have been a pathway through to first-team football with the club now in League One.
The Black Cats only have half a dozen players in their Under-23 squad, with Jordan Hunter having rejected a new contract and Bali Mumba’s move to Norwich City set to be confirmed.