With Newcastle United having secured Champions League football reasonably early, plenty of time can be spent on looking ahead to the summer.
Recruitment staff at the club can now approach potential deals and offer targets the chance to represent Newcastle in Europe’s elite club competition.
That is a seriously exciting prospect for both supporters and players mulling over a summer move to St James’ Park.
Backed by huge money and ambition, the club have something tangible to offer targets, even those who are being tracked by other big clubs around the continent.
One of those could be Sporting Lisbon star Manuel Ugarte.
Newcastle inform Sporting Lisbon they are ready to bid for Manuel Ugarte
Indeed, according to Foot Mercato journalist Santi Aouna, the club have informed the Portuguese giants they are prepared to pay £52m to sign the midfielder.
Free-spending Chelsea are understood to have delivered the same message to Sporting, though clearly they cannot offer Champions League football.
The situation could be further complicated by Paris Saint-Germain. They are understood to have reached an agreement with the player’s agent Ugarte but would like to pay the transfer fee in instalments.
Midfield the key area for Newcastle this summer
Ugarte, hailed as an “irrepressible” ball-winner by ESPN, looks like the perfect kind of addition for this Newcastle team.
The club are understood to know key midfielder Bruno Guimaraes is playing out of position and the Brazilian himself has expressed a desire to operate in a more advanced midfield role.
With Jonjo Shelvey’s injury and subsequent exit, Guimaraes has had to play deeper. While that’s done little to impact his importance to the team, it’s hardly ideal.
According to FBREF data, Ugarte ranks is in the top 90 percentile of central midfielders playing across Europe’s big five leagues for blocks (1.65), interceptions (2.18) and tackles (4.63) per game.
That kind of work rate defensively seems suited to Eddie Howe’s high-energy style and could allow any combination of Guimaraes, Joelinton, Joe Willock and Sean Longstaff to push forward.
On paper at least, it’s easy to see why Newcastle are prepared to spend so much.