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Newcastle ‘in talks’ with Willock alternative, with swap deal on cards

Newcastle United are in transfer “talks” with Watford to sign midfielder Will Hughes, according to a report.

Hughes, 26, helped Watford to promotion back to the Premier League last season, but the Hornets are apparently willing to sell him.

The Sun journalist Alan Nixon claims Newcastle have targeted Hughes with Steve Bruce looking to swell his midfield options.

Joe Willock is believed to be Bruce’s number one midfield target following a remarkable loan stint. The Arsenal man was in brilliant scoring form and equalled Alan Shearer’s record for netting in seven consecutive Premier League matches.

Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta though insisted the 21-year-old will return to The Emirates.

Asked whether Willock will return, Arteta said in May: “Yes, and I’m really happy that things have gone so well for him because of the potential that Joe has.

“I think it was great for him to go away and have a different experience. He has grabbed that opportunity in a really remarkable and positive way. He will be back with us, we will have those conversations with him and plan the next years for him.”

Bruce also made it clear he would try and land Willock again.

Bruce said: “As I have said before, it’s a doubled-edged sword. We have to respect he’s Arsenal’s player.

“If we can, we’d love to bring him here. Let’s see what we can do because he’s exactly what we needed.”

With a move for Willock looking difficult Bruce has begun to look elsewhere with a £12m deal for Hughes on the agenda.

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Hayden swap proposal

Bruce though knows he will have to wheel and deal in the market with the club’s long-term ownership still unresolved.

The report claims Newcastle could look to use midfielder Isaac Hayden as part of any deal to lower the price.

Hayden, 26, missed the end of last season with a knee problem and he faces a battle to get a start in Newcastle’s line-up next season.

He made 22 Premier League starts in the last campaign, mainly in midfield, but he did also fill in at centre-back.

Watford meanwhile have lined up a move for Stoke midfielder Peter Etebo. A deal for the Nigerian could be on loan or a permanent transfer, per the report.

Etebo has been on loan in Turkey for two seasons and his arrival will likely clear the way for Hughes to move on.

READ MORE: Bruce ‘delighted’ as quintet with ‘excellent contributions’ extend Newcastle deals


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