Newcastle to launch €35m bid for Liverpool target dubbed ‘the next Mbappe’

Robin Bairner
Reims striker Hugo Ekitike is linked with Newcastle and Liverpool

Newcastle have received their share of setbacks during the January transfer window as they have discovered just how tough it is to do business in this notoriously tricky time of year.

The Toon have been linked with a myriad of strikers but appear to have made little ground in signing any of them.

While a tsunami of signings were expected at St James’ Park over the course of the month, Kieran Trippier is the only player to have put pen to paper for the relegation strugglers.

Nevertheless, with three weeks still remaining in the window, there is ample time for Newcastle to bolster their squad.

Sky Sports reports that Reims forward Hugo Ekitike is one name on their transfer shortlist. Liverpool, previously, have been linked with the player too.

The 19-year-old has made a huge impression in France this season, scoring eight goals and laying on three more in just 17 Ligue 1 appearances.

He is in the midst of a breakthrough campaign, having never played a senior match in his homeland before August.

For that reason, reports of a fee that could rise as high as €35 million (£30m) are surprising. Even if much of this is loaded as bonuses it would represent a huge windfall for the Champagne club.

Is he the next Mbappe?

Hugo Ekitike, Reims, 2021/22

Comparing Ekitike to Mbappe is unfair. When the Paris Saint-Germain forward was Ekitike’s age, he had already won a World Cup, had lifted multiple major titles and was well established on the world stage.

Ekitike, meanwhile, has only a brief loan spell in Denmark plus five months in France’s top flight to call upon in terms of experience.

As a player, too, there are big differences between the two players. Mbappe is more at home on the wing, where he can make searing runs from deep in behind defences. He is more technical and at the same age was more accomplished in terms of his passing game.

Nevertheless, Ekitike is an impressive finisher and has the attributes to be a successful modern No.9, although the jump to Newcastle from Reims would necessarily be a big one.