Hugo Ekitike’s strengths analysed as Newcastle United learn transfer tag amid rival interest

The Toon Army look to be leading the race for the teen hitman.

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Newcastle United are said to be in “advanced talks” to sign Reims striker Hugo Ekitike, according to a report from 90min.

The 19-year-old has established himself as one of the most promising young forwards in Europe this season, hitting eight goals and four assists at a rate of one strike every 121 minutes this term.

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That return makes Ekitike the highest-scoring teenager in any of Europe’s top five leagues this campaign, and it is understood that his prodigious performances have attracted the interest of a number of Premier League clubs.

As per 90min’s update, however, Newcastle are said to be in a strong position, with negotiations progressing well.

It is understood that Eddie Howe is eager to bring in a new striker to bolster his attacking options before this weekend’s clash against Watford, with star man Callum Wilson set to be sidelined for around eight weeks with a calf tear.

Newcastle’s pursuit of Ekitike

According to 90min, Newcastle’s hopes of landing Ekitike look relatively positive, with suggestions that an agreement could be “close”.

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As well as ongoing talks between the Magpies and Reims, it is claimed that the youngster “feels ready to make the move to the North East” this month.

Any deal for the teenager could be worth around £30 million.

But things might not be as straightforward as they initially seem.

According to transfer guru Fabrizio Romano, Reims are “not intentioned” to accept Newcastle’s first approach for Ekitike, and also want a sell-on clause included in any potential deal for the player.

Rival interest

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Newcastle aren’t the only Premier League club being linked with a move for Ekitike either.

According to another update from 90min, both Brighton and Brentford have launched rival bids for the forward - although the online outlet still maintain that the Toon Army are leading the race for his signature.

It is understood that both offers from the Seagulls and the Bees are in excess of £20 million, but also include substantial add-ons.

In his update on the matter, Romano credited high-flying West Ham with an interest too.

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Despite that, however, Newcastle are said to “believe they are close to finalising an agreement to take the teenager to St. James’ Park”, as per 90min.

Ekitike’s strengths

Ekitike has been a shining light for Reims this season, and his tally of eight Ligue 1 goals is only six fewer than the rest of his teammates have managed combined.

The youngster looks to be mining a rich vein of form at the moment too, with seven of those strikes coming in his last 10 league outings.

Standing at 6’2”, the forward doesn’t possess a blistering turn of pace, but has continually shown an intelligence in his movement and a real knack for finding himself in the right place at the right time in front of goal.

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Ekitike has also repeatedly demonstrated a real efficiency in his finishing this term.

Despite leading Reims’ goal-scoring charts by some distance, he has averaged fewer shots per game than three of his teammates, and his average of one strike every 121 minutes is marginally better than PSG icon Kylian Mbappe’s average of one strike every 122 minutes.

Away from the pitch, Ekitike seemingly has the ambition and attitude to be a big success too.

Speaking of Mbappe, the Toon target has made it clear that he hopes to emulate the World Cup winning star one day.

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He told Foot Mercato, as quoted by Goal: “That’s what it means to be a top-level player and that’s what I aspire to become.

“Over the last few years, he [Mbappe] is the player I watch the most, who inspires me, and not necessarily only on the pitch.”

Ekitike has drawn comparisons to other sporting giants in his fledgling career as well.

Speaking to Goal, a friend of the player said: “He has the mentality of Kobe Bryant in a 19-year-old’s body.

“If you tell him he’s only got 10 minutes left in a game, he’s not going to hide, but take it as a challenge.”