Newcastle United are reportedly on the verge of signing Turkey midfielder Oğuzhan Özyakup from Besiktas, as manager Rafael Benitez seeks to reinforce his squad and improve on last season’s creditable tenth place in the Premier League.
According to Turkish news website Fanatik, the Magpies are close to agreeing a £12.1m transfer fee for the 25-year-old, who has scored 27 goals and weighed in with 50 assists in six seasons with the Turkish club.
Newcastle are believed to be looking for a creative midfielder who can also provide defensive cover – and Özyakup would seem to fit the bill perfectly. He also played in last season’s UEFA Champions League, in which Besiktas progressed to the round of 16 after defeating FC Porto, AS Monaco and Red Bull Leipzig in the group stage.
The midfielder – who has won 30 caps for Turkey – seems to be precisely the kind of high-profile signing whom Benitez deems necessary if he is to maintain Newcastle’s capacity to compete in the Premier League.
The Spaniard has repeatedly expressed his frustration with what he perceives as a lack of ambition from the Newcastle hierarchy – despite owner Mike Ashley’s pledges to provide him with the funds he needs.
Things seem to have come to a head between the two men recently, as Ashley recently refused to back Benitez unless the latter signed a new contract with the club. However, signing Özyakup might just persuade Benitez that Ashley is serious about investing in his squad.
There is one additional complication – Besiktas are reportedly keen to renege on a deal with the midfielder’s former club Arsenal, who stand to make a 30 per cent profit from his sale. The Black Eagles hope to circumvent this clause by letting Özyakup become a free agent (which he will be very soon) – then re-signing him and selling him without having to pay the Gunners a penny.