Newcastle United

Newcastle United

Premier League • England

Hugo Ekitike explains why January transfer to ‘big club’ Newcastle ‘wasn’t right’

Hugo Ekitike, Reims, April 2021.

Hugo Ekitike has spoken of his “respect” for the “big club” that is Newcastle United after opting against joining them in January.

Ekitike was one of the strikers targeted by Newcastle in their first transfer window since the Saudi-backed takeover of the club. They signed the experienced Chris Wood from Burnley, but wanted to pair him with a younger addition like Ekitike.

The 19-year-old has enjoyed a breakout season with Reims in Ligue 1. He scored 11 goals in 26 appearances between league and cup in 2021-22.

As such, he has been attracting a number of suitors across Europe. Newcastle were one of the first to establish a serious interest.

However, their attempts to sign him in January fell through, despite an agreement reportedly being found with Reims on deadline day.

It was Ekitike himself to scupper the move, since he favoured staying with Reims for the rest of the season.

Now, the forward has broken his silence on his decision to remain with Reims rather than make the move to Newcastle.

“I have a lot of respect for that big club,” he told L’Equipe. “But it was all happening very quickly; the timing wasn’t right.

“It was better to stay here, to play a full season, to establish myself.”

Newcastle back in for Hugo Ekitike this summer

Newcastle back in for Hugo Ekitike this summer

Newcastle United chasing Hugo Ekitike from Reims this summer after agreeing a deal back in January

By doing so, Ekitike may be standing himself in good stead for a future transfer. Since the winter window shut, rumours of Newcastle’s interest have been resurfacing.

More suitors are coming to the table, though; the likes of PSG, Borussia Dortmund and Manchester United have also been linked.

As such, he is expecting a “lively” summer when the next transfer window opens.

“I see it being lively!” he admitted. “I think people will show interest in me.

“On my end, I’ll stay calm because I’m surrounded by the right people to manage all of that.”

Ekitike motivated by transfer rumours

That said, Ekitike is pleased to see his name being linked with some powerful clubs.

Asked how he reacts to transfer rumours, he replied: “It makes me smile because it gratifies my hard work. I get the impression that I exist.

“I know that what I’m doing on the pitch is good, it’s being recognised. And not just by anyone. It pushes me to give the best account of myself.

“I always want to progress and become the best.”

In doing so, he may have to leave Reims behind at some stage, even though his contract there runs until 2024.

L’Equipe asked the teenager about feeling at home at Reims, but whether he was ready to leave Reims.

In response, he claimed: “I consider myself to be ready for anything. Whether that’s staying here or taking up a challenge that everyone agrees with.”

Only time will tell whether Ekitike will ever pull on a Newcastle shirt, or choose a different destination for his next club.

READ MOREEddie Howe tipped to target Calvert-Lewin as twin reasons put forward for Newcastle pursuit