May 25, 2024

Cult hero likely to prolong stay at St James’ Park following breakthrough in contract negotiations
Newcastle United are close to finalizing a new contract with Brazil international Joelinton following a series of encouraging conversations with the player and his representation.

The expected extension announcement will be a major lift for manager Eddie Howe and the Newcastle board, who had successfully concluded these difficult contract talks, which had been their top goal before the end of the season.

Replacing Joelinton in midfield would be a massive challenge, and Howe has continually stated that the team must strive to keep him.

Indeed, while an outline of recruitment requirements had been developed ahead of the summer transfer season, nothing could be finalized into a shortlist until they knew if they could keep one of their big names.

Joelinton, who has been a vital part of Howe’s ideas as a box-to-box midfield enforcer, has only 15 months left on his current contract and will be available for move in the summer if he does not agree to extend.

Despite an originally pessimistic appraisal of the 27-year-old’s chances of staying at the start of the year, Telegraph Sport has learned that talks have proceeded well behind the scenes and have been headed in a positive way for several weeks.

Multiple sources have already stated that the player appears to be staying on Tyneside, while final terms are still being worked out.

Joelinton will become one of the club’s highest earners, joining compatriot Bruno Guimaraes, and is anticipated to commit to the club for the next four years.

Chief scout Steve Nickson has primarily overseen the talks, having played a key role in Joelinton’s £40 million acquisition from German club Hoffenheim in 2019.

Newcastle have yet to select a new sporting director following the retirement of Dan Ashworth in February, forcing others to take on unfamiliar tasks.

Nickson’s good relationship with the player and his representation made him the logical choice to negotiate terms, though chief executive Darren Eales and co-owner Amanda Staveley were also highly involved.

As reported by Telegraph Sport last month, Joelinton, who is making good progress in his recovery from a groin injury and should be back playing by the beginning of May, had expressed a wish to stay at Newcastle, but the terms of the deal have to be acceptable.

That has aided negotiations, and as long as there are no outstanding difficulties, the new contract will be finalized later this month.

Why Joelinton’s new contract is a huge boost for Newcastle

In the Premier League era, few players’ fortunes have changed as dramatically as Joelinton Cassio Apolinario de Lira’s.

A striker who could not score goals and was once regarded as one of the worst signings made by a top-flight club is now so important to Howe that he petitioned with the Newcastle board early this year to extend his contract.

Those talks have nearly concluded, with Joelinton ready to join Newcastle’s top earners on a new four or five-year contract.

It will be cause for jubilation on Tyneside, since Joelinton is now widely considered as one of the North East club’s marquee names, and his departure this summer would have left a gaping hole in their midfield.

Telegraph Sport investigates Joelinton’s rise to prominence and how he went from being a laughing stock to a club legend.

A reinvention by mistake

Newcastle’s management did not sign Joelinton. He had been recommended to Rafael Benitez in his final season as manager, but the Spaniard was unhappy and fought attempts by owner Mike Ashley and chief executive Lee Charnley to approve the deal. Chief scout Steve Nickson believed he might prosper in the Premier League.

When Benitez left in the summer of 2019, Newcastle still signed him a few weeks before Steve Bruce took over as manager.

Many people are unaware that before Bruce was handed the post in August 2019, Newcastle had chatted with Mikel Arteta about replacing his fellow Spaniard. Informal negotiations ensued, but Arteta wisely determined it was not the appropriate club for him. He took over as Arsenal’s manager in December of that year. However, sources have told Telegraph Sport that Arteta approved of Joelinton’s deal when it was discussed.

It’s unclear whether it influenced the decision to pay a then-club record amount to Hoffenheim, but Joelinton clearly not cut out to be a Premier League centre forward. The club’s historic number 9 jersey weighed heavily on his shoulders, and after initially cheering him on, fans began to turn against him when he failed to score the goals expected of such a high-priced purchase.

In his first season at St James’ Park, the Brazilian scored only four goals in 44 appearances, two of which came against Rochdale and Oxford in the FA Cup, and six in 36 games in his second.

He became the punchline for an endless supply of jokes, but Bruce admired his determination and charm despite his troubles in front of the net. That admiration was reciprocated when Howe came in November 2021.

Nonetheless, Joelinton’s transformation into a ferocious midfielder was nearly accidental. Howe was pleased by his technical ability and physicality on the training field, but confesses he had no clue how good he would be in a deeper position.

He found out when, after being reduced to ten men against Norwich City due to Ciaran Clark’s red card at the end of his first month in charge, he was obliged to revert Joelinton to midfield. He was outstanding, Newcastle recovered a point in a crucial relegation game, and he has never looked back. The 27-year-old was a standout last season as they unexpectedly qualified for the Champions League, breaking up and starting assaults, and again this season before suffering a groin injury in January, which will keep him out until the end of the month.

What does the new contract say about Newcastle United’s ambition?

Eddie Howe could drop Joelinton after drink-driving charge




There may still be painful decisions to sell players in the future as the club strives to comply with the Premier League’s Profit and Sustainability regulations, but the prospect of losing Joelinton was impossible to bear. He is a cult hero on Tyneside, revered by fans, teammates, and coaching staff alike.

He is also critical to the way Howe wants his side to play. Joelinton is not only physically dominant, serving as Newcastle’s midfield enforcer, but he can also take the ball in tight places and ensure the side maintains control. He is also naturally prone to pass forward, which puts Newcastle on the front foot, and he never stops sprinting.

He has occasionally appeared to be as good a box-to-box midfielder in the Premier League. Newcastle have missed him greatly during his injury absence, and when he plays with Sean Longstaff and Joe Willock, he makes them look like greater players.

He can also play in a variety of positions, including wide left in attack and through the middle in an emergency. It would have cost Newcastle a fortune to replace him, diverting finances away from other parts of the team that require strengthening this summer.

To maintain their finest players, Newcastle must not only be able to offer them the sums they may demand elsewhere, but also persuade them that they can match their goals. Despite fears that Joelinton might try to run down his contract and force a move at the start of the year, Newcastle appear to have convinced him not to do so. It not only retains one of Howe’s blue chip brigades, but it also conveys a message to other big names.

Joelinton has become as essential to Newcastle as his countrymen Bruno Guimaraes, and his decision to extend his contract raises the prospect that his close friend will stay on Tyneside for at least one more season. As a result, it sends a strong message to players such as Anthony Gordon, Sven Botman, and Alexander Isak, as well as those Newcastle hopes to sign this summer.

Newcastle may have to sell players someday, but they do not have to lose their finest players against their will, which bodes well for the future.

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