NEWCASTLE: Eddie Howe has revealed he is hopeful Newcastle United are close to a breakthrough in their summer-long forward pursuit.
The Magpies are deep into the final fortnight of the summer transfer window having only added three senior players to their ranks, in the shape of Nick Pope, Matt Targett and Sven Botman.
However, they have been looking to bring in at least two forward players to compete with the likes of Callum Wilson and Allan Saint-Maximin in the final third.
And Howe, speaking in the aftermath of his side’s exhilarating 3-3 home draw with defending Premier League champions Manchester City, is hoping a deal can be done this week, with Watford’s Brazilian youngster Joao Pedro lined up to arrive.
When asked about incomings, Howe said: “I hope so.”
Which marks a change in message from his recent “no news” mantra.
“As I sit here now there is no guarantee in that, so I can’t give you any certainty. But we do hope to add to the squad.”
On Sunday on Tyneside, Ilkay Gundogan opened the scoring for Pep Guardiola’s men before three United strikers, unanswered, turned the game on its head.
First Miguel Almiron bundled in a leveler after some Allan Saint-Maximin magic before Callum Wilson tucked home after yet more wing wizardry from United’s Gallic number 10. Skipper Kieran Trippier then curled expertly past Ederson to make it 3-1, before City turned on their class.
Erling Haaland reduced the arrears with a close-range volley before a sumptuous Kevin De Bruyne through ball put an equalizer on a plate for Bernardo Silva to ensure honors remained even at St James’ Park.
Howe admits he was delighted with every one of his players, but reserved particular praise for Saint-Maximin, who played an instrumental role in all three of the Magpies’ goals.
“I thought this was his best performance since I have been managing him,” said the head coach.
“He got every aspect of his game in the right place. His pace was there, you could see he was electric, his decision-making with the ball was very good and he defended well.
“In that form he gives us a totally different dimension. The challenge for Maxi is, can he bring that game every week, not just in flashes, and that will dictate how good a season he has.”
A point ensures Newcastle’s unbeaten start to the topflight campaign goes on, even though many thought it would end.
The win over Nottingham Forest has been followed up with battling draws at Brighton and again against Guardiola’s City.
While a point is well-received by Howe, he does admit the encounter was tinged with a slight sadness.
“When you are 3-1 up in any game, you expect to win,” he said.
“I could sit here and say that no part of me is disappointed but I would be lying. But I would much prefer to dwell on the positives of today, rather than the negatives, and I thought the positives far outweigh the negatives.
“It was a great team performance, individually and collectively good. And the effort was there. We committed so much to that game.”
Howe, whose side take on Tranmere Rovers in the second round of the Carabao Cup on Wednesday, continued: “That was the intent from the start (to push up and attack), but the reality can often be very different given the quality of teams you play against.
“We conceded early, which is exactly what we didn’t want to do. But in conceding it maybe took some of the pressure off us.
“With Manchester City you only have to make one mistake and we rode our luck, that’s for sure, but I thought we deserved that luck.
“The majority of top teams in the world are very aggressive, progressive and brave. That is the model we are going to have to see long-term success. “Hopefully that is a display of what the future could look like, but there are no guarantees.”