NEWCASTLE UNITED will make a renewed attempt to sign Tom Cairney this summer, even though Slavisa Jokanovic claims Fulham’s failure to make the Premier League does not mean he will be forced to sell the in-demand midfielder.
Fulham will spend next season in the Championship after they lost to Reading in Tuesday’s play-off semi-final, and their failure to win promotion has led to renewed uncertainty about Cairney’s future plans.
Newcastle discussed a possible move for the 26-year-old in January, but withdrew their interest when Fulham officials quoted them a £20m asking price.
At the time, the Cottagers did not want to lose one of their leading assets in the midst of a promotion push, but the situation could be different now Fulham find themselves facing another season in the Football League.
Newcastle’s recruitment team have monitored Cairney closely for a number of seasons, and Rafael Benitez is known to have been impressed by the Scotland international’s performances in both of Fulham’s matches against the Magpies this term.
Benitez has been keen to add some midfield creativity throughout his St James’ Park reign, and regards the purchase of an attacking midfielder a key priority this summer.
Cairney would fit the bill, although the Magpies will face some strong competition when they step up their interest, with Southampton and West Ham also understood to be interested.
It remains to be seen whether Fulham can be persuaded to reduce their asking price now promotion is not a possibility, but Jokanovic will be doing all he can to hold on to his side’s leading asset.
“I expect our best players are going to stay with us,” said the Fulham boss, in the immediate aftermath of this week’s play-off defeat. “We are talking about most important players – they are going to stay with us.”
Cairney is unlikely to be as keen on remaining in the Championship, having previously spelled out his desire to test himself in the top-flight.
Benitez wants to sign five or six players capable of making an immediate impression on his starting line-up this summer, and is also interested in Manchester City midfielder Aaron Mooy.
Mooy has spent the current campaign on loan at Huddersfield Town, and is widely regarded as one of the main factors behind the Terriers’ successful run to the play-offs.
He is due to return his parent club when his loan spell expires, but Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola does not regard him as a potential first-team player at the Etihad Stadium and could be persuaded to sell the Australia international.
Newcastle are aware of the situation, but Crystal Palace are also understood to have made a formal approach in an attempt to sign Mooy.
Meanwhile, Magpies youngster Lewis Gibson is part of the England Under-17 side that has reached the final of the European Championships. The Stanley-born defender was part of the England team that claimed a 2-1 win over Turkey to set up a final with either Spain or Germany tomorrow.