Immobile makes incredible claim over Newcastle takeover plans

Matt Stead

Ciro Immobile has made Newcastle supporters cry at precisely what could have been.

Less than a fortnight has passed since Newcastle’s prospective Saudi-led takeover fell through.

The Middle East country’s public investment fund (PIF) had been set to take an 80 per cent stake in the Premier League club under the terms of the deal, which was understood to be worth just over £300million.

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But discussions collapsed under the weight of criticism from human rights groups, as well as Saudi Arabia’s links to piracy of sports broadcasting rights.

The Premier League delayed in ratifying the deal due to concerns over the precedent it would set by welcoming state-funded investment, thus rendering moot all those claims about what Newcastle might spend and who on.

Lazio striker and Golden Shoe winner Ciro Immobile has provided the most stark reminder yet of how far Newcastle’s investment could have gone.

The 30-year-old, whose 36 goals in 37 Serie A games this season fuelled an unlikely title challenge in Italy, admits he was contacted with the offer of a move to St James’ Park.

Immobile also revealed that Massimiliano Allegri and Luciano Spalletti were lined up to replace Steve Bruce as manager.

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“During the period in which there was talk of the possible purchase of Newcastle by the Sheikh’s fund they called my agent, Alessandro Moggi,” Immobile told Corriere Dello Sport.

“Then the Premier League did not approve that proposal, or the fund withdrew, I don’t remember well.

“I know they were also looking for an Italian coach, Allegri or Spalletti.”

Newcastle are instead thought to be dealing with a £30m transfer budget, which Bruce intends to spend on British targets such as Tottenham left-back Ryan Sessegnon, Liverpool winger Harry Wilson, Bournemouth striker Callum Wilson and Norwich centre-half Ben Godfrey.