Double departure could help Newcastle fund improved striker bid

Chancel Mbemba. Picture by Frank Reid
Chancel Mbemba. Picture by Frank Reid

Chancel Mbemba and Mikel Merino are close to leaving Newcastle United – as the Magpies consider making an improved offer for Alassane Plea.

Mbemba is set to join Porto in the coming days after the two clubs agreed a fee, thought to be just over £7million. The defender has already agreed a four-year contract at the Estadio do Dragao.

Mbemba, signed from Anderlecht three years ago, has been a peripheral figure under Rafa Benitez, who expects Mikel Merino to complete his proposed move to Real Sociedad early this month. The La Liga club is ready to activate a release clause in Merino’s St James’s Park contract.

Merino, 22, found his opportunities limited by the former of Jonjo Shelvey and Mohamed Diame in the second half of last season.

United have already recruited one midfielder – free agent Ki Sung-yueng – so far this summer.

The departures of Mbemba and Merino will bring in upwards of £16million.

Fulham also hope to clinch the £20million signing of Newcastle striker Aleksandar Mitrovic – who had a successful loan at Craven Cottage last season – later this month. Winger Matt Ritchie is also a £15million target for Stoke City.

Benitez wants to sign a striker and at least one winger. And United, having had one bid for Plea rejected by Nice, are expected to return with an improved offer for the striker. The Ligue 1 club are demanding more than £26million for the 25-year-old, who scored 21 goals last season.

West Brom’s Salomon Rondon is also on Newcastle’s shortlist.

The 28-year-old is available for £16million because of a release clause in his deal at The Hawthorns.

Meanwhile, winger Alex Gillead, released this summer, has spoken about his departure. The 22-year-old said: “It will be a new chapter in my career. It hasn’t worked out the way I wanted it to, but these things happen and you just have to try to find your best option.”