Newcastle signing reveals transfer trio’s sales pitch which convinced him to shun Arsenal interest

Alexander Isak finished his debut season with Newcastle United with 10 Premier League goals and the record signing has discussed the meetings held ahead of his transfer

Alexander Isak has revealed he was convinced to sign for Newcastle United following meetings with Dan Ashworth, Eddie Howe and Steve Nickson. Arsenal and Barcelona were among those interested in the Sweden international last summer, but it was the Magpies who won the race with a club-record transfer.

Injury hampered Isak’s start to life in the Premier League following a memorable goalscoring debut at Anfield in August. However, the 23-year-old finished the campaign in fine form alongside Callum Wilson, and ended up with a respectable return of 10 Premier League goals.

Newcastle’s interest in Isak remained the source of speculation in the months following the takeover in October 2021, although a deal for now-Brighton forward Joao Pedro initially seemed to be on the cards the following summer. The Magpies ultimately struck a deal worth up to £63 million with Real Sociedad, and the forward was sold on the move in meetings with the sporting director and head of recruitment, as well as a conversation with Howe.

He told the Times: “I thought the project was very interesting, ambitious. Then when I spoke to the manager, I felt he knew me well as a player. He explained the qualities he sees in my game and how they’d benefit the team. We had a good understanding.”

Isak scored twice in his first three appearances in black-and-white before spending four months on the sidelines with a thigh injury which was aggravated while on international duty. The forward was then eased back into action following his return, with Howe then stressing he needed to build his fitness to deliver the intensity required for a full match.

Isak eventually usurped Wilson for a starting spot, before finishing the season in a wide role to accommodate the in-form number nine. The early injury was frustrating setback for the record signing, especially given the transfer fee, but he has vowed he will only improve in his second season.

Isak added: “It’s been a roller coaster. I was aware of the transfer fee but I don’t think I let it affect me too much. The injury [after scoring on debut against Liverpool] was tough because it took quite long to get back fully fit, but then it was a brilliant season.

“It was my first season so, for sure, it’s only a glimpse of what I can do. But I feel like English football suits me very well. It’s fast, high-tempo, attacking, and physically demanding as well, which is something I enjoy.”