´I was on the other channel´ – Newcastle boss Howe quizzed on Fernandez as Shearer lauds Argentina b

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Eddie Howe laughed off Alan Shearer’s suggestion that Newcastle United should sign Argentina’s World Cup star Enzo Fernandez.

Fernandez won the Young Player Award at Qatar 2022 following his excellent performances in midfield for La Albiceleste, who beat France on 4-2 on penalties in a thrilling final on Sunday.

Kylian Mbappe scored a hat-trick at Lusail Stadium on Sunday, but it was Lionel Messi and Argentina who came out on top in the shoot-out after a 3-3 draw.

Benfica’s Fernandez was one of the breakout stars at the tournament, featuring in all seven of Argentina’s games and starting five, having scored a stunning goal in a 2-0 win over Mexico in the group stage.

Newcastle great Shearer, a BBC Sport pundit during the World Cup, quipped he would love the cash-rich Magpies to make a move for the 21-year-old, saying: “Absolutely yes. See if he wants to play against Bournemouth on Tuesday.”

Naturally, ahead of that EFL Cup tie, Howe was quizzed on whether he had heard Shearer’s comments.

“Sorry, I didn’t, I think I was on the other channel,” Howe said with a smile. “That’s a mistake on my part.”

Asked if he would like to target Fernandez, Howe replied: “I’m aware of him and I know him. But I think the transfer fee might be quite lumpy.”

Howe also noted it would be unlikely that any team buys a player based solely off their World Cup displays.

“From a recruitment perspective you never just analyse a World Cup and sign a player on the back of those performances,” he said.

“There’s a huge body of work that goes into signing a player, it’s never after four weeks. There’s a period of work that goes into it. It’s not to say we wouldn’t use the World Cup as a recruitment tool.”

Howe, who also dismissed the idea Newcastle would move for Messi in January should the 35-year-old be available, is also pleased that England manager Gareth Southgate has elected to stay on with the Three Lions following their World Cup exit.

Southgate will take charge of England heading into Euro 2024, with Howe having often been cited as a possible replacement.

“The only time it affects me is sat here [in front of the media],” Howe said.

“I’m pleased Gareth made his decision so I don’t have to field questions on it.

“My focus has only ever been Newcastle and making sure that we return from this break in the best possible form we can. I’m enjoying the job and loving the challenge of managing this huge club.”

After playing Bournemouth, Newcastle, who sit third in the Premier League, face Leicester City on Boxing Day in their first top-flight game after the World Cup break.

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