Eddie Howe backs Alexander Isak to add ‘X-factor’ after securing Newcastle move

Eddie Howe is hoping Alexander Isak will add “the X-factor” to his team after Newcastle smashed their club record transfer fee to land the Sweden international.

The 22-year-old Real Sociedad frontman completed a move understood to be worth around £58million on Friday afternoon when he put pen to paper on a long-term contract.

His fee comfortably beats the £40million the Magpies paid for Brazilian Joelinton during the summer of 2019 and takes the club’s spending in the two transfer windows since Amanda Staveley’s consortium took over to around £210m.

Isak, who has 37 senior caps, said: “I’m delighted to have it done. It was a big, big decision for me, but it is a decision I am really happy with.

“It is a great, historical club that I think anyone would like to play for, with amazing fans. They were a big part of why I came here – and also the club’s project, which is one that I really believe in.

“You always want to go into a team and know how they play. I think Newcastle play very attractive football and I want to be a part of that.”

The Stockholm-born 6’4″ striker, who is understood to have signed a six-year contract, began his career at AIK Solna before moving to German side Borussia Dortmund and then, after a loan spell in Holland with Willem II, LaLiga outfit Sociedad.

He is the Magpies’ fourth summer capture after Matt Targett, Nick Pope and Sven Botman, and his arrival represents a major breakthrough for the Magpies’ recruitment team, which has been pursuing attacking reinforcements all summer.

Their task grew in urgency last weekend when leading scorer Callum Wilson limped out of the 3-3 Premier League draw with champions Manchester City, and head coach Eddie Howe is likely to throw him straight into the squad for Sunday’s trip to Wolves.

Howe said: “I’m very excited that Alexander has chosen to join us. He is an outstanding talent who is capable of making a big contribution to the team.

“He is technically very good, with a mix of attributes that will complement us, but he is also at a great age to grow with this club.

“I want to thank the club’s owners and transfer committee for bringing Alexander to Newcastle. We are all delighted to have him on board.”

Confirmation of Isak’s signing came after Howe had carried out his pre-match press conference on Friday morning, but as he kept his fingers crossed, the former Bournemouth boss was relishing the opportunity to work with the Swede.

Howe said: “He will add those qualities he has – he has pace, technical ability, dribbling ability, he has got a bit of X-factor about him.

“He is slightly different and I think he is capable of scoring goals.”

Newcastle striker Callum Wilson is facing a spell on the sidelines with a hamstring injury
Newcastle striker Callum Wilson is facing a spell on the sidelines with a hamstring injury (Owen Humphreys/PA)

Wilson, meanwhile, is facing a spell on the sidelines and while Howe has insisted his injury is not serious, he admits that situation did add urgency to the pursuit of Isak.

He said: “Naturally with Callum’s injury – which we don’t believe to be serious, by the way, we’re hopeful that Callum will only be out for a couple of weeks – but naturally we acted slightly off that in terms of we were always looking for attacking players, but it changed our focus maybe slightly on the type.”

Howe also confirmed the club is in talks with Manchester United over goalkeeper Martin Dubravka, who has been displaced as number one by summer signing Nick Pope, but revealed he is in no mood to let the Slovakia international go.

Martin Dubravka has been linked with a move to Manchester United
Martin Dubravka has been linked with a move to Manchester United (Nick Potts/PA)

He said: “There has been contact between the clubs, but that will be something that will continue probably to happen, as in the discussions.

“But in terms of an actual final outcome, I’m very reluctant to lose any important players to the group, so that’s a decision that will be out of my hands, really.”