5 U21 Defenders Around Europe Who Could Shape Newcastle's Future

James Budgen

Goncalo Inacio

Last season, Goncalo Inacio got into the starting XI for Sporting Lisbon who won the Primeira Liga and lost just one game in 18 months, but while the performances weren’t outstanding, the potential is clear to see.

This season, however, his performances have vastly improved and he is looking like he could make an impact on a team in a top league and it looks just a matter of time until we see him make the move elsewhere.

For Sporting, Inacio plays in a back three as one of the wide centre-backs, a formation which Eddie Howe has implemented at points in his tenure as Newcastle manager. Inacio has both on-ball and off-ball abilities which could work really well as a wide centre-back in the Premier League.

The 20-year-old Portuguese star could cost Newcastle between £15m-£25m.

Maxence Lacroix

Maxence Lacroix made the jump from Ligue 2 club Sochaux to Bundesliga club Wolfsburg in the summer of 2020 for only €5m at 19 years old and quickly made an impression and rapidly became their starting central defender.

In just his first season in a top flight league, Lacroix was the main part of a defence that conceded the second least amount of goals in the Bundesliga and finished fourth to qualify for the Champions League. This season the team have dipped dramatically, falling to 14th in the Bundesliga, however, it has been their attack that has let them down.

With Lacroix, Newcastle will be investing in a player that not only has the potential to be one of the best central defenders in the league, they will be investing in someone who has shown at Wolfsburg that he can make an instant impact on a team.

Lacroix could cost Newcastle between £25m-£35m.

Ilya Zabarnyi

Ilya Zabarnyi broke into both the Dynamo Kyiv team and the Ukraine national setup last season, and after a great first campaign, he is now touted as one of the best young centre-backs in football. At just 19 years of age, Zabarnyi has played in the Champions League, Europa League, World Cup qualifiers and the European Championship.

The Ukraine man has very good defensive instincts, which along with solid defensive and physical attributes has made him a very promising prospect on the continent.

Zabarnyi also has some excellent on-ball ability, but it is his defensive ability that can improve Newcastle right now, especially if they have an experienced defender next to him who can cover for him when he regularly steps out of defence.

The Dynamo Kyiv man has experience against some of the world's best forwards, which could help out the transition into the Premier League and Zabarnyi could cost Newcastle between £15m-£30m.

Saidou Sow

Saidou Sow is a 19-year-old Guinean international playing for Saint-Etienne who this season has been one of the breakout players in the Ligue 1 and a shining light in a team most likely to get relegated.

Sow is a modern-day central defender, and he is solid on the ball, has great athletic attributes, whilst also having well-known defensive instincts. He is a similar player to former Saint-Etienne defender, Wesley Fofana, who came to the Premier League and flourished at Leicester City.

With Saint Etienne most likely getting relegated, they may be willing to sell Sow at a cut-price, with Newcastle potentially able to get him for under £10m, which is a great price for the impact he could have on their team.

Benoit Badiashile

Benoit Badiashile has been on the radar of major European clubs for a few years now and with the 20-year-old Frenchman not only having the potential to be a top class central defender, but being that already, he is set to cost a bit more than the others mentioned here.

It was noticeable since Badiashile made his debut as a 17-year-old for AS Monaco that he had immense physical attributes, standing at 6ft 4. He's also quite quick for someone this size and he looks to be the perfect physical specimen for the Premier League.

Badiashile has made 83 appearances in Ligue 1 already, so Newcsatle will be investing in a left-footed center back that has vast experience at such a young age, but also if he develops technically to match his physical attributes, he could become one of the best in his position.

Badiashile would cost Newcastle between £40-£50m, but it might end up looking like a bargain.


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