Rumours have circulated in the media this week suggesting that Newcastle United are preparing a player-plus-cash offer for Brighton’s Lewis Dunk.
The commanding, 6 ft 4 in centre-half has been turning heads at The Amex Stadium during the last 12 months and is commonly regarded as one of the best young defenders in the Championship.
Conversely, 31-year-old Mike Williamson’s form has frustrated the St James’ faithful over the past few campaigns - seasons the uncapped Englishmen was supposedly in his physical prime.
Ex-Newcastle and now Brighton boss, Chris Hughton, brought Williamson to Tyneside in a £2 million deal from Portsmouth back in 2010. It’s thought that Hughton would like to be reunited with his old defender, but not at the expense of his prized asset, who also happened to be the Seagull’s top scorer by three goals last term.
Dunk, 23, is said to be valued at £5 million by the south-coast club and although Chancel Mbemba made an encouraging start to his Newcastle career in last weekend’s draw with Southampton, Williamson and Steven Taylor aren’t options that will take the club forward.
They’ve both have shown to be off the pace compared to captain Fabricio Coloccini in recent seasons and could justifiably be cited as reasons for the Argentine’s shaky form. Although, despite signing a new deal with the club last week, Coloccini’s commitment has come into question amongst ramblings he was seeking a return to his homeland last summer.
Considering Newcastle held the second worst defensive record in the Premier League last year and weren’t safe until the last day of the season, it was imperative that money was invested in rebuilding the Toon’s backline.
Mbemba’s £8 million arrival has been the only addition thus far whilst a further £29m was spent on offensive-minded reinforcements. It's clear boss Steve McClaren needs to address his rear-guard after shipping another two goals on the opening day of the season.
Williamson has been an easy target for fans with his aimless long balls out of defence and severe lack of pace; shipping the former Portsmouth defender would be a progressive step in its own right, let alone replacing him with one of the second-tier’s top defenders.
The speculation has intensified since Williamson was left out of Newcastle’s squad for the season’s curtain raiser last week, despite featuring throughout pre-season. Jamaal Lascelles is another young centre-back the Magpies managed to pluck from the Championship last year, but he was then loaned back to Nottingham Forest to aid his development.
Should Lascelles and Dunk end up accompanying Coloccini and Mbemba as United’s core central defenders, the Newcastle fans will certainly feel more stable moving forward – a feeling not all too common on Tyneside.