Newcastle eye January move for Morocco World Cup sensation who Mourinho calls ‘incredible’

Azzedine Ounahi of Morocco during the international friendly match between Morocco and Chile played at RCDE Stadium on September 23, 2022 in Barcelona, Spain

Newcastle look set for a transfer battle for one of Morocco’s biggest World Cup stars, Azzedine Ounahi, who is attracting interest from the likes of PSG and Inter Milan.

The Angers central midfielder played admirably as his country became the first African nation in history to reach the World Cup semi-finals. Alongside Sofyan Amrabat, heroic goalkeeper Bono and the stalwart Roman Saiss at centre-back, they were among the stars to earn plenty of plaudits.

Now, the Magpies are reportedly keen to bring some of that Moroccan magic to Tyneside, with Newcastle looking to splash some of their endless reserves of cash on the 22-year-old.

Ounahi was a key part of Morocco’s impressive performances as they saw off some huge challenges from the likes of Belgium, Spain and Portugal.

Up until their 2-0 defeat to France, Morocco had conceded just one goal in the tournament, which was an own goal in a 2-1 win over Canada.

Ounahi was key to this defensive success, playing alongside Amrabat to protect his country’s defensive line.

But, he also created a lot of the attacks the Atlas Lions did have, threading effective passes to make quick transitions from defence to attack.

Mourinho dubs Ounahi ‘absolutely incredible’

The Angers player has received plenty of praise from pundits over the past few weeks, but he has also attracted the attention of Roma boss Jose Mourinho.

Speaking to Goal, Mourinho said: “They have individuals: [Yassine] Bounou was an individual during the competition and in this game was the same; [Sofyan] Amrabat, I know him from Italian football, very good player but their number eight, the young boy that plays in France in Angers, Ounahi was absolutely incredible. So they have players, a coach and an incredible spirit.”

Ounahi plays his club football at Angers in Ligue 1, who are struggling massively this season after winning only two games out of 15 thus far.

The club went into the World Cup break bottom of the table, which almost makes it even more surprising how Ounahi has performed so brilliantly at the tournament.

According to 90MinNewcastle, Southampton, Wolves and West Ham are all interested in pursuing the Moroccan maestro, while Barcelona, Atalanta, Inter Milan and Paris-Saint Germain have all previously sent scouts to watch the midfielder.

Reportedly, Leicester may also make a move for Ounahi, should Youri Tielemans depart the King Power in January.

Transfermarkt value the midfielder at just £3.5m, but you can imagine this fee will have at least tripled following Qatar 2022.

Newcastle set for a busy January

However, with Newcastle’s financial pulling power and being very much a club ‘on the up,’ Ounahi could definitely be tempted into a move to St James’ Park. But, clearly, there is considerable competition for the player.

Newcastle are looking to do plenty of business in the January window, with Eddie Howe keen on Shakhtar Donetsk wonderkid Mykaylo Mudryk. Although, they face competition from Man City and Arsenal for the Ukrainian winger.

Moise Caicedo from Brighton is another midfield option the Magpies are mulling over after some decent performances for Ecuador in Qatar and impressing for the Seagulls this season, so it could be a case of one or the other between Caicedo and Ounahi.

It will be interesting to see where the Moroccan star ends up in January, as it seems extremely unlikely he’d want to be fighting relegation with Angers in Ligue 1.

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