Newcastle United

Newcastle United

Premier League • England

Club president cites ‘project’ as big reason why Newcastle transfer for star attacker failed

Hugo Ekitike celebrates a goal, Rennes v Reims September 2021

Reims have confirmed that Newcastle striker Hugo Ekitike will stay in France because he has more history to write at the Ligue 1 club.

The Magpies made new attacking options a major January transfer window priority in a bid to fire themselves away from a relegation battle. They made a fast start by triggering the £25million release clause in Chris Wood’s Burnley contract.

However, manager Eddie Howe realised the need for another addition. France Under-21 international Ekitike, 19, was one of the biggest targets for Newcastle.

And reports early on on deadline day claimed that Howe’s team had agreed a deal for the player. They would have paid £25million with the total cost rising to £33million with extras.

The deal looked like it was going through. However, reports then claimed that the deal was in doubt. Borussia Dortmund and Paris Saint-Germain registered late interest. Indeed, those approaches made the player stay and he will reassess his options in the summer.

Reims president Jean-Pierre Caillot said in a statement (via 90min): “It is true that we received very good offers for Hugo during this transfer window. Our desire has always been to keep him at least one full season.

“He too was keen not to skip the stages, wanting to be a little more lasting in the club project, that of his training club which he joined at the age of 11.

“We share the feeling that there is still a piece of history to write together. We are happy to be able to count on him from Sunday against Bordeaux.”

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Indeed, Ekitike has risen through the ranks at Reims and came into the first team last summer following a loan move at Vejle Boldklub in Denmark.

He has featured in 18 Ligue 1 games, scoring eight goals and assisting three others in the French top flight.

Reims are looking to finish in a higher position than their 14th-placed position last season.

As for Newcastle, they are battling relegation. They currently sit 18th in the Premier League after 21 games.

No Ekitike, but Newcastle busy

Eddie Howe, Leeds v Newcastle January 2022

Newcastle may not be getting Ekitike, but they have nevertheless enjoyed a busy transfer window.

As well as Wood, they have added Kieran Trippier, Bruno Guimaraes, Matt Targett and Dan Burn.

Former Lyon midfielder Guimaraes is perhaps the headline-grabbing signing.

However, Howe will be hoping that all his signings as a collective can help steer his side away from relegation.