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Newcastle: Dan Ashworth dodged a bullet with Hugo Ekitike

Newcastle United smashed their club transfer record in the summer to snap up Alexander Isak from Real Sociedad for a reported fee of £59m.

Dan Ashworth swooped to snap him up from the La Liga outfit last month to bolster Eddie Howe’s attack and he has rewarded them with two goals in three Premier League matches so far.

Things could have worked out differently for the club, though, as they heavily pursued another number nine to improve the team prior to signing the Swedish international.

The Magpies reportedly agreed a deal with Stade Reims to sign Hugo Ekitike for a fee in the region of £30m and the move then fell through due to ‘ridiculous‘ demands from his agent and the attacker ended up joining Ligue 1 giants Paris Saint-Germain instead.

It may sound harsh, given that he only turned 20 in June, but the Frenchman has been a flop since his move to the capital in the summer.

Ex-PSG man Eric Rabesandratana recently criticised the centre-forward’s mentality, saying:

“I’m not convinced by Hugo Ekitike because he has shown mental weaknesses.

“He’s young, but I find that, behaviour wise, he doesn’t correspond at all to what you expect from him as a young person, and especially as a player who should impose him at PSG over the years.

“We need players who are focused on football, and I’m not sure that moaning every two seconds, half-bothering to do the exercises, because it bores him and he’d rather play games, is enough.”

He went on to say that Ekitike is “more of a kid than a professional” and his lack of action on the pitch suggests that the manager does not believe he is ready for regular minutes.

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The forward has played five matches in Ligue 1 and failed to produce a goal or assist, with all of his appearances coming as a substitute, and he has not been used at all in the Champions League so far.

Ekitike, who had scored 11 goals in 26 matches for Reims last season, has seemingly struggled with the step up to playing for PSG and his mentality may be playing a part in that, as per Rabesandratana’s comments.

Therefore, Ashworth dodged a bullet on the Frenchman as these issues, including his accused his lack of focus and professionalism in training, could have been a stumbling block for him under Howe as they have proven to be in Paris so far.

Instead, Newcastle brought in Isak and he has enjoyed a superb start to life at St. James’ Park in front of goal. Long may that continue and, hopefully, the Magpies will never regret failing to land Ekitike.