ENSCHEDE, NETHERLANDS - APRIL 29: Douglas of Twente blocks the shot from Theo Janssen of Ajax during the Eredivisie match between FC Twente and Ajax Amsterdam at De Grolsch Veste Stadium on April 29, 2012 in Enschede, Netherlands. (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)
FC Twente center half Douglas Franco Teixeira (commonly known as simply Douglas) made a couple of headlines Tuesday when he revealed that 5 clubs were interested in his services (The Chronicle), including Ajax, Newcastle, and "a club bigger than Newcastle." It was the latest twist in the saga of Alan Pardew's chase of the 23 year- old, which was first brought to light last December. The Toon failed to capture his signature in January but maintained their pursuit, and toward the end of the season it was common knowledge that the parties had agreed to basic terms. Last month, however, it was reported that the deal was dead, with Newcastle officials citing having to work with multiple agents as the root cause of the problem.
This latest leak about negotiations from Douglas himself seems to suggest that interest from Pardew and company has not waned. Past reports have suggested mutual interest from Douglas, but this latest quote sort of throws a monkey wrench into speculations about his frame of mind. My first impression of this quote was that Douglas is clearly trying to leverage Newcastle's interest into a better deal with this mystery team. It's probably not in the player's best interest to talk down your best shot at a transfer, however true the statement might be, which makes me think he's trying to get the attention of the other party. Then again, why the secrecy? He called both Ajax and Newcastle out by name, so why not this other team? It's possible the sides are close to a deal and they've asked him to keep quiet, but if that were the case, why say anything at all? The major papers have speculated all along that Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur are hot after Douglas (and why not? Those two are in on everybody this summer), and both of those teams would qualify under Douglas' criteria. But he says only one "big club" is after him - which one?
I have multiple theories. (1) Both clubs have cooled their interest, so he's trying to rekindle negotiations by simultaneously suggesting to each one that the other is still involved, escalating a bidding war that doesn't actually exist. (2) He's been negotiating with one of the teams, but things aren't going his way, so he name-checks a club known to have past interest in order to bring them back to the bargaining table. (3) Newcastle are his only serious suitor, and things aren't going how he wants, so he lets slip that not only is a different, bigger club interested, but that he'd be more than happy to join them, forcing NUFC to up their offer.
Those theories are all far-fetched and almost certainly false, but the point is that while the Mystery Team sometimes actually does exist, the fact that he's willing to name some but not all of the teams after him seriously makes me question his sincerity. That these two sides have previously come close to a deal and are still willing to explore the possibility of a transfer is encouraging.
Also encouraging is that Douglas appears to have plenty of motivation to leave FC Twente. He's considered one of the league's best players - certainly among defenders - and he claims that any mistakes he has made have been the result of boredom. (See above Chronicle link)
Then there's the issue of his lack of an international career. Douglas is Brazilian-born, but he hasn't received a chance to play for his native country, a fact he attributes to the lack of visibility and respect afforded the Eredivisie. Frustrated by the lack of opportunity, he applied for and received a Dutch passport in November, but he doesn't quite satisfy FIFA's residency requirements just yet, so he won't be participating in Euro 2012, despite Bert van Marwijk's efforts to get him approved. Douglas clearly needs and wants to play on a bigger stage, so if Newcastle represents his best opportunity to do so, this deal will get done.
In other words, if this Mystery Team is indeed a fabrication, there's a good chance Douglas ends up on Tyneside. I happen to think he's a great fit for the Toon, which is probably why I've convinced myself there's no other team. At 6'4", Douglas is just as tall as Mike Williamson and happens to possess the ability to keep track of his mark. He's reportedly very formidable in the air, and since Newcastle had a set piece problem last year, it looks like a match made in heaven. There's also the advantage he would afford on set pieces on the other side of the pitch. Pardew has been trying to use Williamson's height to his advantage in that arena since he arrived, to little avail. Douglas could be the part-time target man he has been looking for. Indeed, most of his Youtube highlight videos show him working in this very capacity. (I suppose it would be hard to compile highlights of sound positioning, after all.) In addition to the obvious advantage he would provide in the aerial game, Douglas is a fine tackler of the ball and is known for making strong, decisive sliding tackles in and around the box. He appears to have a cool head for somebody his age. Finally, he is something of a long ball artist and has assisted on 16 goals over the last 4 years.
In short, he's somebody who could work very well alongside Fabricio Coloccini, locking down most of the major deficiencies in Newcastle's defensive third. At the very least, he'd be a very impressive depth signing, were Steven Taylor to beat him out for a regular spot in the Starting XI. Given his apparent desire to leave Holland, Douglas seems a likely signing for Alan Pardew, as long as a bigger club doesn't come calling first.