Rio Ferdinand may have inadvertently handed Manchester United a problem after telling Newcastle which three Premier League stars he thinks they should sign.
Newcastle are expected to spend big in the January transfer window following their £305million takeover by a Saudi-backed consortium – and that could be bad news for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side.
Newcastle became the Premier League’s richest team when the takeover by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund was confirmed last week, ending Mike Ashley’s 14-year tenure as owner.
The sale of the club immediately saw the Magpies linked with a raft of players, including Raheem Sterling, with the England winger struggling to nail down a first-choice role at Manchester City.
There has also been speculation that Newcastle could move for several of United’s fringe players, including Jesse Lingard, Anthony Martial, Donny van de Beek and Eric Bailly.
And Ferdinand urged Toon to make “a mad couple of signings”- saying they should be going for Lingard and Sterling, as well as United target Declan Rice.
“I’d be going to try and make like a mad couple of signings, like huge, that I think would be gettable,” said Ferdinand on his YouTube show Vibe with Five.
“I’d be looking at people like Raheem Sterling. Raheem Sterling’s not playing regularly, I’d go ask him the question. I’d go and ask Declan Rice, ‘What’s going on?’
“Them two would be the first two on my list, and I’d go all out to go and get them. And then I’d be trying to get people like Jesse Lingard, who’s in and around the Man United squad.”
If Newcastle were to listen to Ferdinand’s advice, all three of those potential signings could come as a blow to the Red Devils’ plans – with a move for Sterling ironically having the potential to do as much damage as a swoop for Rice.
A switch for Rice to St James’ Park would leave United looking for a new midfield target, with Solskjaer expected to strengthen his engine room next summer.
Despite signing Cristiano Ronaldo, Jadon Sancho and Raphael Varane this summer, United’s transfer business left many many fans dissatisfied, with Solskjaer’s side shipping chances and his double midfield pivot continuing to come in for criticism.
Rice is widely viewed as a player who could help solve those issues, but United would likely have to meet West Ham’s £80m price tag – which seemingly wouldn’t be a problem for Newcastle given their new-found wealth.
Lingard’s chances at Old Trafford were expected to be limited following the arrivals of Ronaldo and Sancho – but he has scored two Premier League goals as well as setting up Ronaldo’s winner against Villarreal in the Champions League.
His crucial contributions have come despite the England man having made just one start this season, in the Carabao Cup.
United were determined to keep hold of him during the summer when West Ham were keen on him following his impressive loan at the London Stadium last term.
But with his contract expiring at the end of this season, a move from Newcastle in January would give the Red Devils a decision to make over whether to reluctantly cash in on the 28-year-old.
And then there’s Sterling, who faces a dilemma over whether to extend his contract with Manchester City with the likes of Jack Grealish, Phil Foden, Riyad Mahrez and Gabriel Jesus ahead of him in Pep Guardiola’s pecking order.
The 26-year-old has been impressive for England and is valued at £81m by Transfermarkt, despite his apparent struggles at City.
And if Newcastle were to meet that price tag, it could finance a City bid for Erling Haaland next summer without the need for the Premier League champions to break the bank.
With United expected to rival City for the Borussia Dortmund striker’s signature, that could be the biggest blow of all to Solskjaer’s plans.