Newcastle United

Newcastle United

Premier League • England

Newcastle transfer hopes take new turn as Man Utd, Liverpool start scouting striker target

Julien Le Cardinal alongside Hugo Ekitike

Hugo Ekitike may be justified in his decision to turn down Newcastle United in January, because reports reveal the Magpies have now been joined by a whole host of rivals for his signature.

Newcastle signed one striker in their first transfer window since their Saudi-backed takeover. But the new owners wanted to pair Chris Wood with a younger reinforcement too. In that regard, Hugo Ekitike was the talent they were chasing.

The teenager is in the midst of a breakout season for Ligue 1 side Reims. After returning to the club in the summer from a loan spell, he has kicked on with nine goals from 19 league games this season.

His potential alerted Newcastle during the transfer window, but they were unable to get a deal over the line. Reims wanted £30m to gift Ekitike to Newcastle, plus a sell-on clause.

Although Newcastle eventually got close to those demands, they were then knocked back by the player himself. He preferred to see out the season with his hometown club amid potential concerns about Newcastle’s position.

Their interest remains for the summer, by which time they will either have secured Premier League safety or dropped into the Championship.

But they will also be fending off plenty of competition from elsewhere for Ekitike. According to 90min, all of the Premier League’s ‘big six’ have been scouting him.

And in addition to Manchester City, Liverpool, Manchester United, Chelsea, Tottenham and Arsenal, several other sides are also keeping tabs on him. Among that group are West Ham and Leicester City.

Newcastle made the right signings for their cause

Newcastle made the right signings for their cause

Newcastle made the right signings to help them in their fight for this season.

Elsewhere in Europe, Ekitike has caught the eyes of Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid and Sevilla from Spain, Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich from Germany, Juventus from Italy, Porto and Benfica from Portugal, and PSG and Lyon from France.

Representatives from all those clubs were watching Reims beat Bordeaux 5-0 on Sunday. Ekitike scored the first goal of the game by converting a rebound of a penalty he won and missed.

His stock will continue to rise, perhaps to the extent that he makes it to France’s World Cup squad by the end of the year. The report states that is possible, but as an “outside chance”.

Which club he will be playing for by then remains to be seen. Reims have him under contract until 2024, but may have to fend off offers during the next transfer window.

Hugo Ekitike part of expanding Newcastle shortlist

Hugo Ekitike Stade Reims

While the list of clubs monitoring Ekitike is expanding, so is the list of striker alternatives Newcastle are looking at.

A recent report shed light on the plans of Dan Ashworth if he takes up a job with the club. He would be expected to pursue a number of signings.

As per the Daily ExpressBlackburn Rovers frontman Ben Brereton Diaz tops their wish list.

The Stoke-born Chile striker has 20 goals to his name this season and looks likely to leave if Rovers fail to secure promotion.

He is also being watched by West Ham and Leeds.

But the sheer financial might of Newcastle places them as favourites to sign him, per the report.

Ashworth is also planning a raid on his former club Brighton for exciting Belgian winger Leandro Trossard and defender Adam Webster. A swoop for Chelsea attacking midfielder Conor Gallagher, currently on loan at Crystal Palace, is also on the agenda.

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