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Report: Tottenham in the lead over Newcastle to land James Maddison

This is notable not just for what is said, but who’s saying it.

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Here’s the current state of play for Tottenham Hotspur six days into the summer transfer window: Spurs have successfully negotiated a slightly lower fee with Juventus to make Dejan Kulusevski a permanent signing, David Raya is still their first choice for a new goalkeeper with transfer talks ongoing between the clubs, and it’s a battle between Spurs and Newcastle for the services of now-Championship attacking midfielder James Maddison from Leicester City.

Except... maybe it’s not so much of a battle after all? Scott Wilson, writing in the Northern Echo this morning, states that while Maddison is considering his options, Spurs are actually in the lead for his services, as he and his family prefer a move to London over one to the north.

Maddison is understood to prefer a move to London ahead of a switch to the North-East for personal and family reasons, and with Newcastle reluctant to demolish their current wage structure this summer, Tottenham are also set to offer him a more lucrative weekly wage packet than the offer that would be on the table at St James’ Park.

— Scott Wilson, Northern Echo

This is a significant report, primarily because of the source. I’ve said this several times over the years, but when it comes to transfer rumors, often times it’s the writers at the regional newspapers who have the juice. The Northern Echo is, as it says, a northeastern paper covering the Tyneside/Wearside area in addition to Yorkshire and other parts of the northeast of England. It doesn’t surprise me one bit that Wilson would have ties that are close to Newcastle, and if a northern newspaper is reporting this about a Newcastle United transfer target, I’m inclined to believe it more than I am, say, Sky Sports’ transfer tracker.

And it makes some sense! I’ve seen elsewhere that Newcastle, despite being juiced to the gills with Saudi Arabian oil money, still have to be careful this season with their transfer business due to FFP restrictions. I’ve read elsewhere that they’re focusing their attentions this summer on 2-3 primary targets rather than snaffling up anyone they can get their hands on. (That’ll probably come later.)

While Toon can offer Champions League football next season, what they can’t offer is London — for some players that’s a pretty big draw, especially if they have partners and a young family. If Spurs are actually competitive on a wage basis with Toon this summer, then I do believe things like family preference could be a big factor. It also wouldn’t surprise me if Maddison could be excited about getting in on a new Tottenham project on the ground floor.

Maddison’s a good player, though expensive and a little farther along on the age profile. That said, I think he could be an excellent addition to Postecoglou’s new-look team next season, and if he’s the guy he wants Spurs to go after, I’m okay with it. Plus he’d (likely) get to work with his good buddy Harry Kane for at least a year, and maybe that’ll be a factor in convincing Kane to stay and sign a new contract.