Newcastle United and Southampton set to watch ‘spectacular’ £26m Europa League star

The Magpies are formulating their plans for the January transfer window - and one new name is said to be on their radar.

Newcastle United have reportedly sent scouts to monitor Portugal Under-21 star Vitinha.

The Braga forward has been in fine form this season after scoring nine goals and providing five assists in 20 appearances for the Liga Portugal club. The 22-year-old has taken to life in Europe after hitting a hat-trick in his side’s 3-3 draw with Belgian club Royale Union Saint Gilloise in a Europa League group stage tie last month.

Speaking before that game, former Braga manager Carlos Carvalhal gave an insight into what the in-form forward can offer and suggested he is well on his way to international recognition. He said: “He’s very good at attacking space. He finishes spectacularly with his right foot, he’s strong with his left foot, and he’s got a lot of ability with his head. If he continues to evolve like this, he can aspire to reach the (Portuguese) national team.”

His form has been a key reason behind Braga’s solid start to their domestic season as they sit in third place, with only Porto and Benfica bettering their 28-point tally after the opening 13 games of the campaign. With the domestic season now taking a break for the World Cup Finals, Vitinha will focus on improving an impressive start to his international career after scoring three goal in four appearances for Portugal’s Under-21s.

Vitinha will hope to add to his tally when his side face a friendly double-header against the Czech Republic and Japan over the coming days - and he will come under the gaze of several clubs that are monitoring his progress. Portuguese newspaper O Jogo have reported Newcastle, Brentford, Southampton and German club Stuttgart will all have scouts on hand to watch a player they say is ‘much appreciated for his speed, shock-power and eye for goals’.

Vitinha is reported to have a £26m release clause inserted into his current contract at Braga.