Newcastle United have opened talks with Reims over signing French wonderkid Hugo Ekitike.
NewcastleWorld has learned that the Magpies’ interest in the 19-year-old is genuine as they look to fill the striker void left by the injured Callum Wilson.
Eddie Howe confirmed after Saturday’s shock FA Cup exit to Cambridge United that Wilson is set to spend the next two months on the sidelines with a calf problem.
Naturally, the Wilson blow has made recruiting a centre-forward a major priority, especially after Dwight Gayle’s absence has left Howe without a fit senior striker.
Even when Gayle, who signed a new three-year contract in the summer, has been available, he’s been overlooked - restricting him to just four substitute appearances this term.
Allan Saint-Maximin, Jacob Murphy and Ryan Fraser - all wingers by trade - plus Joelinton, played up front as United worryingly fired a blank against League One opposition.
Indeed, that had alarm bells ringing on Tyneside as part-owners owners Amanda Staveley and Mehrdad Ghodoussi, and non-executive chairman Yasir Al-Rumayyan witnessed first-hand United’s attacking woes, as well as defensive.
With Watford the visitors to St James Park’ this weekend in a huge Premier League relegation six-pointer, the plan is to have a striker finalised in time.
New Zealand international Chris Wood has been identified as a potential target, however Burnley are unlikely to sell to a relegation rival. The two teams are locked on the same number of points (11).
Comparison to Kylian Mbappe and David Trezeguet
However, Newcastle striker’s search has now led them to Reims star Ekitike, who at the age of 19, is drawing comparisons to Paris Saint-Germain superstar Kylian Mbappe.
Furthermore, former France international Johan Micoud said Ekitike reminds him of Juventus legend David Trezeguet.
Micoud said: “It’s been a very long time since I’ve seen a player with a style such as his.
“The way he moves and the way he runs reminds me of a great player, David Trezeguet.”
A graduate of the Reims academy, Ekitike has burst onto the Ligue 1 scene this season having previously enjoyed a six-month loan spell at Danish club Vejle Boldklub at the beginning of 2021.
Since August, Ekitike is the highest scoring teenager in Europe’s top five leagues with eight goals in 17 league outings. Reports suggest a £30million bid may seal his signature, with other Premier League clubs also alerted.
Ekitike loves the big stage
His tender age may raise doubts among the Newcastle fanbase that Ekitike is the answer to the club’s striker troubles, though a source in France has told NewcastleWorld that the LesBleus under-20 international relishes the big stage.
Ekitike was quoted recently saying: “When I start a match, it doesn’t matter who I’m playing against, I always say to myself that I’m capable of scoring or doing something decisive.”
It is hoped a transfer can be completed in time for the game against Watford should Newcastle ramp up their efforts to sign the youngster over the next 24 hours.
If United land Ekitike, it is thought they will still look to add a more experienced forward to their ranks before the end of the month.
Meanwhile, summer target Jens Cajuste has joined Reims in a club-record deal.
The Sweden international has a number of keen admirers at St James Park, with scouts having watched the 22-year-old over the past 12 to 18 months.
NewcastleWorld learned over the weekend that Cajuste’s next destination was likely to be in France, and so that has proved after he penned a long-term contract with Reims on Monday.