The summer may have been a deeply frustrating one for Newcastle United and Rafael Benitez but at least the Spaniard has ticked one priority off his to-do list.
The defence certainly looks a lot stronger after the addition of physical Eibar centre-back Florian Lejeune, who impressed on debut against Hearts on Friday. However, with both Grant Hanley and Chancel Mbemba failing to win over Benitez, it would be a little surprise if the manager wanted one more centre-back this summer.
Therefore, this may explain the Daily Mail’s report that Newcastle are interested in Alaves’ Zouhair Feddal.
Feddal thrived at Alaves
The 6ft 3ins stopper is available at a bargain £2.6 million thanks to a very affordable buyout clause and impressed in Spain last season, helping the newly promoted side finish ninth and reach the Copa Del Rey final.
However, it appears that Newcastle may well be fighting a losing battle already. Because they are not the only Premier League club interested in Feddal. The report adds that Southampton are also in the race and may have a distinct advantage due to the fact that their new manager, Mauricio Pellegrino, got the best out of Feddal in Spain last season.
The 28-year-old Moroccan has endured a nomadic career, representing ten clubs between 2008 and 2015, but finally found a home under Pellegrino, himself a tall, talented and immensely intelligent centre-half in his playing days.
And it is no exaggeration to say that Feddal enjoyed by far the most successful season of his career at Alaves, both on an individual and collective basis.
New Southampton manager Mauricio Pellegrino
Therefore, you could hardly blame him for jumping at the chance to reunite with his mentor on the South Coast. Feddal may not be the most ambitious of Newcastle’s summer targets but he could test Benitez’s negotiation skills to the limit.