Potential suitors for Newcastle’s Euro 2016 star Moussa Sissoko – France’s James Milner – have been told they will have to come up with a staggering £35million if they are to lure him away from St James’ Park.
We understand the Magpies have placed the huge price tag on one of their most prized assets, who turned in a fine individual display in his country’s 1-0 final defeat to Portugal at the Stade de France on Sunday evening.
The 26-year-old, who joined Newcastle from Toulouse for an undisclosed fee in January 2013, has been linked with a move away from Tyneside since the club’s relegation from the Premier League at the end of last season.
He has made no secret of his desire to play Champions League football, much to the annoyance of Newcastle fans who have all too rarely seen him produce the kind of high-octane performance he did for his country against the Portuguese.
Sissoko has already been linked with a series of clubs, including Arsenal, Tottenham and Liverpool and there is little doubt that he would command a sizeable fee should manager Rafael Benitez decide to cash in on him as he rebuilds his squad for life in the Sky Bet Championship.
However, while Andros Townsend has already left after Crystal Palace activated the £13million escape clause in his contract, Benitez is keen to retain the services of the likes of Sissoko and Georginio Wijnaldum despite their understandable desire to be playing their football at the highest possible level next season.
Perhaps more significantly, Newcastle have no immediate need to sell their biggest names and even if they are ultimately persuaded to do so, owner Mike Ashley and managing director Lee Charnley will not do business on the cheap.
It is understood any buyer would have to match the kind of figure Liverpool had to hand over to capture striker Andy Carroll in January 2011 if they are to prise Sissoko from Benitez’s grasp with the club sending out a message that they will not waste their time dealing with opportunist bids which come nowhere near meeting their valuation.
In the meantime, Benitez will attempt to persuade his leading lights to stay and help Newcastle regain their top-flight status before embarking upon the bright future for which he is planning.
The Spaniard continued his rebuilding programme on Monday when he landed 21-year-old Arsenal defender Isaac Hayden on a five-year deal, taking his tally to five summer