London (AFP) – Kieran Trippier became Newcastle’s first signing under the club’s new Saudi-led ownership on Friday, with manager Eddie Howe saying he hoped his arrival would pave the way for further additions to his relegation-threatened squad.
The 31-year-old full-back has returned to the Premier League from Atletico Madrid for an undisclosed fee, understood to be in the region of £12 million ($16 million) plus add-ons.
The former Tottenham defender has signed a two-and-a-half-year contract and his arrival signals the launch of a new era under Howe, who was appointed as manager at St James’ Park in November.
Speaking at his pre-match press conference ahead of Saturday’s FA Cup third-round clash with third-tier Cambridge, Howe talked up the profile of his club.
“It’s a sign that the club has a huge pull — and I’m not talking financial here,” he said.
“Kieran hasn’t come for the financial benefits of the contract. He’s come for the club and for the challenge that the team faces at the current time, but also the longer-term vision, so I think that’s a massive thing for the football club.
“Hopefully with his signing, other players around the world will potentially look at that and share his dream and his vision for what he sees. That’s a big thing for us.”
Trippier, who was signed by Howe in 2012 when he was in charge at Burnley, won La Liga with Atletico last season but is relishing his return to England.
“I’m so happy to be joining Newcastle,” he tweeted. “Everyone knows the fans are unbelievably passionate and I will give my absolute all for them. I can’t wait to get to work.”
The defender, capped 35 times by England, could make his debut against League One side Cambridge if the paperwork is completed in time.
– Relegation battle –
Newcastle, who have not won a major trophy since 1969, face a struggle just to stay in the Premier League. They are one place off the foot of the table after a single win in 19 games.
But three months after a controversial takeover by a group led by Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund was completed, the club have a chance to splash the cash.
Newcastle have been linked with a bewildering list of potential targets in the past few weeks.
Howe declined to comment on individual players, with Everton’s Lucas Digne and Juventus midfielder Aaron Ramsey among those to have been touted as possible signings, but admitted he remains hopeful of further additions.
“There are no guarantees,” said the former Bournemouth boss. “It might sound simple from the outside. It’s very, very different when you’re on the inside, so I’m confident, but there are no promises.”
Any player considering Newcastle will be aware the club are mired in relegation trouble but Howe indicated his distaste for escape clauses in contracts.
“Offering relegation clauses is a sure-fire way to potentially bring players in who don’t have the correct motivation,” he said. “I want players who are absolutely committed and have no way out.”
Howe confirmed that forward Callum Wilson was to undergo a further scan on a calf injury and the results could determine whether or not he needed to sign a player as cover.
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