League One outfit Wigan Athletic are set to complete the signing of Newcastle United defender Kelland Watts, according to journalist Craig Hope on Twitter.
The 23-year-old centre-back, who had a previous spell at the DW Stadium in the 2021/22 season, is set to re-sign for the club on loan for the campaign, with the move being made permanent next summer when his deal at St James’ Park comes to an end.
Little bit of outgoing NUFC news…
➡️ Defender Kelland Watts (23) is set to join Wigan on a loan deal that will become permanent when his contract expires next summer
🐝 We could also see movement on Jamal Lewis to Watford on loan
— Craig Hope (@CraigHope_DM) July 18, 2023
Who is Kelland Watts?
Signing for Newcastle United’s academy at the age of eight, Watts put pen to paper on his first professional deal with the club in the summer of 2018 in which he went on to play all 41 matches in the under-23’s in the 18/19 season. Watts has also made one first-team appearance for the Magpies, coming on as a substitute in a 3-1 defeat to Liverpool at Anfield in July 2020.
A series of loan spells would follow for the young defender, with Watts signing for Stevenage in League Two for the 19/20 season, in which he appeared 16 times for the club before being recalled and shipped out to Mansfield Town for the second half of the campaign, making eight appearances and scoring once for the Stags.
The 2020/21 season would see Watts make the temporary move to Home Park to play for Plymouth Argyle in League One. During his year-long stay in Devon, the 23-year-old would make 50 appearances in total for the Pilgrims, scoring on three occasions as the club finished 18th in the third tier.
Watts’ next loan move away from Newcastle would take him to Wigan Athletic for the 21/22 campaign, in which the defender went on to make 35 appearances for the Latics as the club secured promotion back to the Championship after two seasons away.
Peterborough United would be the club where Watts would spend the 2022/23 campaign but following a loan spell hit with injuries, the defender would only appear 11 times for Posh as he returned to Newcastle at the end of the season.
Building for a return
The potential signing of Watts will add to the defensive ranks at the DW Stadium in a summer which has been a busy one so far in terms of the transfer window for Shaun Maloney’s side.
Some of the key arrivals at the club include right-back Sean Clare from Charlton Athletic and midfielder Matt Smith from Arsenal, alongside exciting winger Jonny Smith from Burton Albion, as well as free agent Callum McManaman.
The Latics are looking for an instant return to the Championship after a miserable 22/23 campaign in which they finished bottom of the league on 39 points, taking the drop to League One alongside Blackpool and Reading.
I think this will be an excellent signing for Wigan Athletic. Despite an injury-riddled 22/23 season, Watts is a reliable defender with plenty of EFL experience under his belt, even at 23 years old.
Wigan fans will know exactly what he is all about as well after he helped the club seal a return to the Championship in the 21/22 season. With the move originally being a loan with the defender signing on a permanent deal come next summer when his contract at Newcastle United expires, I think this represents excellent business for the Latics.