Newcastle United confirm summer transfer as defender agrees loan move

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The Magpies confirmed an academy graduate has departed the club as he enters the final year of his current deal at St James Park.

Newcastle United defender Kelland Watts has agreed to join League One club Wigan Athletic on a season-long loan deal that looks to have brought an end to his time at St James Park.

The Alnwick-born centre-back progressed through the Magpies academy before making a solitary senior appearance in a 3-1 home defeat against Liverpool on the final day of the 2019/20 season. However, Watts still has managed to rack up over a century of first-team appearances after enjoying productive loan spells with the likes of Peterborough United, Plymouth Argyle and Stevenage.

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Newcastle United defender Kelland Watts celebrates Wigan Athletic's League One win the season before last. (Pic: Getty Images)Newcastle United defender Kelland Watts celebrates Wigan Athletic's League One win the season before last. (Pic: Getty Images)
Newcastle United defender Kelland Watts celebrates Wigan Athletic's League One win the season before last. (Pic: Getty Images) | Getty

Thirty five of those appearances came in the colours of Wigan as the 23-year-old helped The Latics to the League One title during the 2021/22 season and will now return to the DW Stadium for the upcoming campaign as Sean Maloney’s side look to bounce back from relegation into the third tier at the first attempt.

The move seems to have brought an end to Watts’ time with Newcastle as he has moved into the final year of his current contract with the Magpies and seems unlikely to be handed an extension.

Speaking after completing the move, Watts told the Latics website: “When it first came about, it was something that I was really looking forward to doing. The last time I was here, it felt like home, so it’s nice to be back home! Last time I was here, I created memories that will last my whole career, and I’m wanting to make more memories in a Wigan shirt now.”

Wigan manager Maloney revealed the reasons behind his pursuit of the United defender and believes he has secured ‘an important signing’.

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He said: “I’m really happy that we’ve managed to secure Kell’s return. A left-sided centre-back is a difficult profile to get, so he’s a really positive signing for us. Off the pitch, he’s the right type of character that we need, and he was extremely popular amongst staff and previous players during his last loan here.

“He’s a really important signing for us. It’s took us some time but I really appreciate the work of Newcastle United and the people here at Wigan have done to get that through.”

Watts could make the first appearance of his second spell with Wigan when his side visit Tranmere Rovers for their penultimate pre-season friendly on Friday night.

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