Newcastle were 19th in the Premier League when the winter transfer window opened, having conceded 42 goals in 19 games.

No side had a worse defensive record, so Eddie Howe brought in a left-back (Matt Targett on loan from Aston Villa), right-back (Kieran Tripper from Atletico Madrid) and a centre-back (Dan Burn from Brighton & Hove Albion) to shore things up.

His recruitment worked as Newcastle conceded only 20 goals from the next 19 games. Only four clubs had a better defensive record. Eddie Howe is still looking to strengthen his backline with LOSC Lille’s Sven Botman on his radar and Jonathan Woodgate supports the decision.

He said via Chronicle Live: “It really would strengthen their defensive line. To be fair, since Eddie Howe and Jason Tindall have come in, they have improved that defensive line.

“The signing of Dan Burn, Trippier and Matt Targett at left-back. They really have improved. And Fabian Schar, who had a really great end to the season. Sven Botman would really up the ante. He’s a really good player. He’s a top player.”

Botman joined Lille from Ajax in 2020 and has gone on to make 79 appearances in all competitions, scoring three goals with two assists. The uncapped Netherlands centre-back won the Ligue 1 title in 2020/21 and isn’t often beaten in a one-v-one.

This season, Botman was dribbled past just six times, made 112 clearances and blocked 21 shots, so he’d provide even more protection alongside a solid defender like Dan Burn.

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