Jose Fonte has revealed he pushed Sven Botman to join Newcastle United this summer.
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After failing to sign the Dutchman during the January transfer window, Newcastle fought off intense competition from AC Milan to land Botman.
While the signings of Dan Burn and Matt Targett had already improved the defence after January, it appears to have gone up a level since Botman’s arrival. No one in the Premier League has conceded fewer goals, with the 22-year-old playing a huge role in that.
Never has the former Lille defender been on the losing side for his new club, while only three players to have made more than ten Premier League appearances this season boast a better percentage of dribblers tackled than Botman (80% via FBREF).
Hailed as having the ability to become one of the best centre-backs in the Premier League by Jamie Redknapp in October, the former Ajax youngster looks a relative snip at a reported £35m.
Even more impressively, the club are said to have “held their nerve throughout negotiations” with Lille, refusing to bow to inflated demands. In Botman, they’ve landed the right player at the right price.
What did Fonte say about Botman?
Having played with the Dutchman at Lille, former West Ham and Southampton defender Fonte has revealed his message. Speaking to La Voix des Sports (via Sport Witness), the Portuguese said: “When he told me about Newcastle, I told him to go for it. And they’re third now, no?”
What has Botman said about his transfer?
While Milan are no longer the powerhouse of old, it surely can’t be easy for a player to reject a club of that stature. Reigning Italian champions and back in the Champions League, few can doubt their pull.
Still, speaking to Dutch outlet De Telegraaf (via The Mirror in June), Botman said: “AC Milan also gave me a good feeling, but Newcastle United felt just a little bit better in the end.
“I really wanted to go to Newcastle United in January, because I also heard – and that’s a cliche, I know – that such a train doesn’t pass by often. It means the very big chances don’t come by that often. To me Newcastle was a mega opportunity.”