What now for Isak, Gordon and Guimaraes at Newcastle after June 30 PSR deadline passed?


Nobody at Newcastle United envisioned how dramatic the final throes of June would need to be.

Yet Eddie Howe, the head coach, had long trailed the prospect of a “difficult summer”. In early April, for example, he cited a lot of “unknown factors” contributing to uncertainty surrounding Newcastle’s transfer plans, without delving into specifics.

In hindsight, Newcastle’s need to plug a financial shortfall to comply with the Premier League’s profitability and sustainability rules (PSR) was the starkest consideration. Even as far as two months out from the June 30 accounting deadline, Howe accepted he could offer “no guarantees” about holding onto Alexander Isak and Bruno Guimaraes, the club’s two most prized assets, especially as the latter had a £100million ($127.7m) release clause in his contract that was active until that same date.

Howe stressed he was determined to retain those “very rare” talents and that his “intention would be to keep them for as long as we possibly can”. Regarding Isak, he added, “To be the team we want to be, we need to keep our best players.”

Now, with the spectre of June 30 no longer looming, Newcastle are determined to use the remainder of a window that runs until August 30 to ensure they finish this summer with a stronger squad than they had when it began. That will be one of the first challenges for Paul Mitchell, who was announced as the club’s new sporting director on Thursday.

With rumours of potential exits for striker Isak, midfielder Guimaraes and winger Anthony Gordon in recent weeks, The Athletic outlines their respective situations and Newcastle’s stance on the future of each one…


Alexander Isak

For months, the tone, led by Howe, during recruitment discussions within the club has been that, if Newcastle were to seriously consider allowing Isak to leave, then they might as well give up on any medium-term ambitions of competing at the top.

Even at the height of last week’s tense PSR situation, following a tentative Chelsea enquiry about Isak and that club even offering players in return, Newcastle did not waver.

Howe simply would not countenance losing the Sweden international, who scored 25 goals across four competitions for the club in 2023-24, including 21 in 30 Premier League appearances, and who, aged 24, is already close to providing consistent world-class form.

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Howe was adamant he would not lose Isak (Stu Forster/Getty Images)

Isak is viewed at the club as the ultimate modern-day forward, able to play across the front line, and Newcastle recognise finding another striker who can produce such top-class figures would require an exorbitant fee. In all likelihood, they would have to take a gamble by recruiting another up-and-coming prospect, in the same way they did when signing Isak two summers ago, only with no guarantees of enjoying similar success.

Chelsea may have made preliminary soundings about Isak’s status, but they never made a serious enough proposal to give Newcastle a decision to make. That would have required them receiving an offer worth well in excess of £100million.

The presence of a sell-on clause, believed to be around 10 per cent, inserted into the deal when Isak arrived from Spain’s Real Sociedad, would have lessened the PSR benefit of any potential sale anyway. With four years’ worth of amortisation remaining from the £60m club-record fee, too — so, roughly £40m — the price Newcastle would have needed to recoup to offset a PSR blackhole which stood north of £50m would have been easily more than double what they paid for him.

Last month, Isak insisted he had “no thoughts on leaving” Newcastle and that he “loves everything about the club”.

Even if there have been some reports that he is flattered by interest from top European sides, Newcastle are confident he wants to stay — and do not expect anyone to make them the sort of offer that would even make them contemplate doing business.

If Newcastle essentially reached a position whereby, rather than face selling Isak, they felt forced to explore pretty much all alternative avenues to avoid a PSR breach, that stance has only solidified as June has become July.

Attempts to tie Isak down to a new-and-improved contract — despite there being four years left on his current one — are expected to intensify, with preliminary talks having taken place. Just as his team-mates will need reassuring of the plan going forward after recent events, Isak will too, but Newcastle believe they can achieve that.


Anthony Gordon

If news of Liverpool’s interest in Gordon emerging proved unsettling for Newcastle supporters, it appears to have affected the player, too.

As The Athletic reported on Monday, some inside Newcastle harbour fears the winger’s head has been turned by a potential move to his boyhood and hometown club.

When Newcastle’s PSR situation was looking especially problematic, fleeting conversations were held with Liverpool over Gordon, following a previous, arms-length enquiry. Newcastle, who are seeking a right-sided centre-half, proposed Jarell Quansah moving in the opposite direction as a potential makeweight, a notion which Liverpool dismissed, while at least one other player was mentioned during the brief talks.

Quickly, it became evident Liverpool were not going to make a formal bid, given Newcastle’s high valuation — which was far more than double the £40million that brought him north from Everton in January last year. Such a figure felt justified given Gordon’s 2023-24 form, which earned him a place in the England squad at the ongoing European Championship in Germany, let alone significant remaining amortisation costs and clauses in his contract.

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Gordon is currently at the Euros with England (Alex Pantling/Getty Images)

But the 23-year-old was seemingly intrigued by the prospect of a move back to the club who released him at age 11 and, despite it never getting close to materialising, some at Newcastle recognise they may need to reassure Gordon he can still achieve his ambitions on Tyneside.

He has an excellent relationship with Howe, who views Gordon — after seeing him score 11 goals and assist another 10 in the Premier League last season — as integral.

Newcastle will not welcome further interest from Liverpool — which may not be forthcoming anyway, given their plethora of existing wide-position options and how the above links have subsequently been played down at Anfield — or elsewhere: Howe did not want to lose the player in the first place and those short-lived, exploratory talks with Liverpool came during a moment of desperation.

While the club are confident they can resist offers for Gordon, exactly what the winger’s stance on his future turns out to be does leave a lingering concern.

A nervous few weeks await for Newcastle’s fanbase.

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Bruno Guimaraes

Given the whirlwind of rumours emerging from Newcastle last week, the sense of collective relief that Guimaraes’ £100million release clause is no longer active now we’re into July was almost overlooked.

Had that figure been offered before the final week of June, Newcastle would have been powerless to stop the Brazilian midfielder leaving.

In the spring, there was a begrudging expectation one of Guimaraes’ suitors may do just that. And, although Howe and Newcastle did not want a transfer to happen, there was an acceptance it was a possibility — one which would have significantly improved the club’s PSR position.

But, despite social-media claims of champions Manchester City readying an offer last month and French counterparts Paris Saint-Germain consistently being linked with him, nobody has yet made a serious proposal relating to Guimaraes. Whether his ongoing participation in the Copa America has affected that, with players rarely moving while representing their countries at major tournaments, is unclear.

Bids may still arrive — with Guimaraes described as City’s “big target in midfield” in the latest edition of The Athletic’s weekly DealSheet — but, with a much-reduced urgency to recoup funds post-June 30 and no clause to be activated, Newcastle are theoretically in an emboldened position.

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Guimaraes is adored by Newcastle’s fans (Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)

Even so, much will depend on how the 26-year-old reacts should a Champions League side formalise their interest. If Guimaraes ends up agitating to leave in such circumstances, then Newcastle must either run the risk that comes with retaining an unsettled player or be pushed into agreeing a sale, even if it is for less than £100million.

In that sense, the expiration of that clause does not place complete control back into Newcastle’s hands.

However, the hope is that Guimaraes is unlikely to behave in such a way. Two and a half years after his signing from France’s Lyon, the 25-cap Brazil international values his relationship with Newcastle supporters — the fans adore him — and pushing for a move would tarnish that.

Until such a scenario arises, though, it is impossible to know how Guimaraes would react.

But, for now, Howe is planning to be able to select from an exciting group of midfielders. That includes Joelinton and Guimaraes, the Brazilian best friends whose futures both looked uncertain this year, and the early-season return of Sandro Tonali, whose acquisition last summer was partly inspired by the need to plan for a post-Guimaraes Newcastle, from his 10-month ban for breaching betting rules.

There are almost two full months of the window remaining but, if Newcastle end it with Isak, Gordon and Guimaraes all wearing black and white stripes, as they hope they can now their PSR issues appear settled, the omens for the 2024-25 season will be positive.

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(Top photos: Getty Images)



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