Newcastle United were reportedly very keen on signing Blackburn Rovers striker Ben Brereton Diaz in the summer transfer window but the Toon may have dodged a bullet in not bringing him in to St James’ Park.
According to a report by The Athletic, the Magpies’ sporting director Dan Ashworth enquired about signing the Chile international in mid-August by calling the Championship club. However, it seems likely that Newcastle, just like several other Premier League clubs, were put off by Blackburn’s reported £20m asking price for the 23-year-old.
Fortunately for the Toon, this opened the door for them to sign Alexander Isak in a club-record £59m deal, and the Sweden international could offer far more pedigree than Brereton Diaz at St James’ Park.
Last season was the first truly impressive one of the 23-year-old’s career, as he hit 22 goals in 37 Championship appearances, averaging a strong 7.06 rating from WhoScored for his performances.
While he has started the new campaign in fine form, hitting four goals in his first eight appearances, there is little to suggest that his goalscoring form would translate to the Premier League.
He has earned recognition for his performances for Chile, for whom he represents through his Chilean mother, and he earned a lot of praise from head coach Eduardo Berizzo, who said: “Brereton is very intelligent in his movement and found himself behind rival defenders several times.”
However, it’s worth remembering that Blackburn sold Adam Armstrong to Southampton after he hit 28 goals in the second tier in 2020/21, and he has managed just three goals in 29 top-flight appearances since then.
Another man who excelled in the Championship before struggling in the top flight is Dwight Gayle. The 32-year-old hit 23 goals in each of his last two full Championship campaigns with Newcastle and West Brom but managed just 11 goals across four seasons in the Premier League for the Magpies.
Like Brereton Diaz, Gayle looked really sharp and confident in the second tier but he struggled with the step up to the top flight; and for £20m, Newcastle might have been going down the same path again in signing a player who only has one standout season to his name so far.
Therefore, Ashworth may have dodged a disaster in opting against signing the Blackburn man and will be hoping that Isak, who has done well at the highest level in Spain and Netherlands in the past, can be a much more successful signing for Howe’s side.