Lewis Holtby was one of a string of players linked with Newcastle United during the summer window.
With Rafael Benitez keen to add Premier League experience to his promoted squad, former Tottenham player Holtby was a reasonable bet… it wasn’t a ridiculous rumour.
On Newcastle’s side in any potential deal was Hamburg’s willingness to sell. In money trouble, Holtby was being pushed out, and with a contract ending in June 2018, wouldn’t have been expensive.
Holtby wasn’t keen on leaving Hamburg, given his big salary, and has been happy to hang around the place, but now things have taken a further turn. The 27 year old was left out of Hamburg’s match-day squad at the weekend, and had to watch from the stands.
Manager Markus Gisdol is preferring to focus on youth, and the club’s sporting director Jens Todt told Bild: “Of course that’s bitter for him. But the coach makes the decision on the likelihood of the team’s best outcome.”
Holtby is very much being given a message – he has no future at Hamburg.
But if he isn’t good enough for relegation strugglers Hamburg then surely he isn’t good enough for Newcastle United?
There’s certainly an argument to be made in that direction but, like with all things HSV related, it’s not that simple.
Gisdol’s decisions over the summer and into this season have almost certainly been influenced by the club’s money troubles. Holtby would likely move to Newcastle as nothing more than a squad player initially, and have to fight for his place, which may be what Benitez is looking for.
Hamburg would almost certainly cut their losses in the winter market and see the player go for free, and take his €3.5m basic salary with him.