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Newcastle United 'leading Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool in race for £68m defender'

:Headline: Newcastle United 'leading Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool in race for £68m defender':
Newcastle United are reportedly regarded as the new frontrunners to secure a summer deal for Sporting Lisbon defender Ousmane Diomande.
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Newcastle United are reportedly ahead of a number of Premier League rivals in the race to sign a highly-rated defender this summer.

In sharp contrast to the team that performed superbly at the back in 2022-23, the Magpies have conceded 54 goals from 33 games during 2023-24.

As a result, Eddie Howe's side are in a fight to secure European football for next season, with the club currently sitting in seventh position in the Premier League standings.

Although Newcastle will naturally be making plans for the transfer market, which re-opens in June, their spending power will be influenced by whether they are able to add continental action to their schedule.

The North East outfit have already been restricted in that area in January, needing to ensure that they continue to meet the Premier League's Profit and Sustainability Rules.

Diomande on Newcastle's radar?

Nevertheless, it appears that Newcastle are prepared to show ambition in the next transfer window, particularly when it comes to strengthening their defensive options.

According to A Bola, Newcastle are now regarded as the frontrunners to sign Diomande in the summer ahead of the likes of Arsenal, Liverpool and Chelsea.

The report suggests that the club's hierarchy have already been proactive in attempting to determine whether they can afford the player by holding discussions with Sporting.

Diomande is said to have a release clause of €80m (£68.5m) in his contract, although it remains to be seen whether any club meeting that fee is realistic.

A total of 23 appearances have been made by the Ivory Coast international in Primeira Liga this campaign, Sporting well on course to win the title ahead of Benfica.

Sporting have incredibly won 26 of their 30 fixtures, yet their defensive record is marginally inferior to their nearest challengers and Porto.

Is a transfer to St James' Park realistic?

Howe will be prioritising a new centre-back in the summer courtesy of Sven Botman and Jamaal Lascelles both sidelined in the long term with knee injuries.

That has left Howe feeling the need to switch to a back three to accommodate Fabian Schar, Emil Krafth and Dan Burn, Newcastle having more wide players to rely on to feature at wing-back.

As it stands, though, that does not look like a long-term solution. Schar, Kraft and Burn are 32, 29 and 31 respectively, with Krafth having been rarely used over the past year due to a long-term injury.

Newcastle may have to cash in one of their star men in order for a move for Diomande to be successful, yet it may be deemed value for money with the player only 20 years of age.

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Premier League Table
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
CManchester CityMan City38287396346291
2Arsenal38285591296289
3Liverpool382410486414582
4Aston Villa382081076611568
5Tottenham HotspurSpurs382061274611366
6Chelsea381891177631463
7Newcastle UnitedNewcastle381861485622360
8Manchester UnitedMan Utd38186145758-160
9West Ham UnitedWest Ham381410146074-1452
10Crystal Palace381310155758-149
11Brighton & Hove AlbionBrighton381212145562-748
12Bournemouth38139165467-1348
13Fulham38138175561-647
14Wolverhampton WanderersWolves38137185065-1546
15Everton38139164051-1140
16Brentford38109195665-939
17Nottingham ForestNott'm Forest3899204967-1832
RLuton TownLuton3868245285-3326
RBurnley3859244178-3724
RSheffield UnitedSheff Utd38372835104-6916
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