Lewis Hall is a Newcastle United player, with the 18-year-old officially completing his initial season-long loan move from Chelsea this morning.
That loan move will convert into a permanent transfer next summer, with the Slough-born defender set to sign terms on an initial five-year contract at St. James' Park.
The eventual fee for Hall's signature will be £28 million plus £7 million in achievable add-ons, while Chelsea will also hold a sell-on clause as part of the overall package.
A Newcastle fan since childhood, the young left-back should complete the Magpies' summer business, joining Sandro Tonali, Harvey Barnes, and Tino Livramento as the new faces in Eddie Howe's squad. He will wear number 20.
Hall gave his first comments to NUFC.co.uk as part of the announcement, saying "I’m very proud. Me and my family are Newcastle fans, and for me and my brother growing up, it was drilled into us that we were Newcastle. It's a big club and I can't wait to get started. I got a lot of experience last year in some big fixtures and I was really proud of the way I progressed as a player and a person. To now be here at Newcastle, the club that I've supported since I was a kid, I'm honoured and very proud to wear this shirt."
While Howe built upon the positive words about Hall from his Friday press conference, "I'm delighted to welcome Lewis to Newcastle United. He is a player we have tracked closely, as have a number of clubs, so it's very pleasing to secure him and to add a player of his quality, versatility, and high potential to our squad."
Hall was first linked with a move to St. James' Park by NUFC Blog on the 21st of July. Their exclusive, which quoted "a source close to the recruitment team" said that the left-back was under consideration due to Eddie Howe being a "big admirer" of his.
It also came out around this time that Hall shared an agent, Wasserman, with new signings Harvey Barnes and Tino Livramento, recent signing Harrison Ashby, and Howe himself, which added fuel to the fire.
There has been plenty of back-and-forth since then, though, with Jacque Talbot of Football Transfers reporting on the 28th of July that Chelsea would not be selling Hall this summer, especially not to a Premier League rival.
The left-back was later reported to be joining Crystal Palace on a straight loan in early August, having signed a new six-year contract at Stamford Bridge. Chelsea's dual pursuits of Moisés Caicedo and Roméo Lavia and the nearly £175 million spent to sign them seem to have moved the goalposts since then, though!
Indeed, the chaotically-run Stamford Bridge club again found themselves in a position where they needed to make some urgent sales to comply with Financial Fair Play rules. This meant that by the 16th of August Newcastle had almost agreed terms with Chelsea for Hall, as reported by David Ornstein of The Athletic.
By Friday the 18th of August a fee was agreed and Hall was on his way to Tyneside to undergo a medical. He then travelled to the Etihad Stadium with his family and agent to watch his new teammates in action against Manchester City on Saturday evening.
Predominantly seen as a left-back, Hall is a versatile player who can also play left midfield and in the centre of midfield in either a defensive or attacking role.
Transfermarkt states that Hall has started 18 of his 72 career games at left midfield (25%), the same number in central midfield, with 15/72 in defensive midfield (21%) and 14/72 at left-back (19%). The others have seen him start in attacking midfield (three times), at centre-back (three times), and even at left-wing (once).
Howe mentioned Hall's versatility in his first comments on the potential signing on Friday, saying "He's a player that I like, very versatile, really good potential."
Our two favourite Twitter analysts have been all over the Hall signing, too, with Kev Lawson of Statsbomb posting a cracking thread that rounded up all of Hall's key metrics and showed some clips of his quality:
Sanjay wasn't too far behind, posting his own detailed breakdown just a few hours later:
To sum up, Hall apparently sees himself as "an explosive box-to-box midfielder with an eye for goal" and, if played at left-back, should be a significant attacking upgrade on Dan Burn.
He's a good ball carrier, possesses an excellent cross, and is an accomplished corner taker, which could provide an alternative option to Kieran Trippier. He's even pretty decent in the air, too, and at 18 has plenty of time to improve in all areas of his game.
You can see a lot of what Kev and Sanjay talk so glowingly about in this extended highlight video, complete with typically terrible music:
He's already in the game in the blue of Chelsea, with a price tag of £4.5 million. That won't change with a transfer to Newcastle, but his prospect of first-team football will almost certainly increase in time.
Still, you can get Sven Botman for the same price and the big Dutchman is a guaranteed starter, so we'd hold off snapping up Hall for now. If Dan Burn gets injured or Hall displaces him from the team, then he could become a quality option later in the campaign.