Newcastle United had spent much of the past year or so chasing promising Frenchman, Hugo Ekitike, with the striker having emerged as a leading target for the club during the winter window.
After impressing at former club Stade de Reims – where he netted 11 goals last term – the highly-rated starlet had been linked with a move to St James’ Park in January, only for the player himself to snub the switch after a fee had been agreed between the two parties.
Rumours had again been circulating over the summer that the Tynesiders were hoping to add the 20-year-old to their attacking arsenal, only for that interest to fail to bear fruit, as the dynamic gem joined European powerhouse Paris Saint-Germain on an initial loan deal.
That failure to land the emerging talent had likely been seen as a real blow at the time for Magpies boss Eddie Howe, with the recent window having proven somewhat frustrating with regards to recruiting forward additions, prior to the late capture of club-record signing, Alexander Isak.
On current evidence, however, it may have proven something of a blessing in disguise regarding the inability to get Ekitike through the door, with the 20-year-old having endured a frustrating start to life at the Parc des Princes, failing to score in six league outings for Christopher Galtier’s side.
The £25.2m-rated gem’s current woes were epitomised on Saturday evening as he produced a rather anonymous display on what his first start for the Parisien outfit, notably being dubbed “frustrating” by journalist Alexandre Aflalo as he was withdrawn on the hour mark.
That “static” display – as described by journalist Nabil Djellit – saw the 6 foot 2 ace fail to register a single shot and give away possession on six occasions from just 30 touches, before being withdrawn in favour of compatriot, Kylian Mbappe.
On what was a tough day for the France U21 international, there were contrasting fortunes back in England as Howe’s men stormed to a 4-1 victory over newly-promoted Fulham, with fellow striker Callum Wilson marking his return from injury with a bang after netting his third goal of the season in that convincing win.
The “electric” forward – as previously dubbed by Thomas Rooney – lead the line superbly in the absence of the aforementioned Isak, producing a typically lethal poachers finish to set the Magpies on their way to victory.
As journalist Ciaran Kelly noted, the £46k-per-week Englishman is something of a “game changer” for the northeast side such is his quality, making the difference against the Cottagers despite only having 12 touches, with that clinical nature set to be vital for the Premier League side this season.
Indeed, the striker is well-known to Howe already and is incredibly well accustomed to his tactics and training methods, with only Brett Pitman (84) scoring more goals than Wilson (74) under the former Bournemouth boss’ tutelage.
Of course, the Magpies won’t have foreseen bringing in the forward’s ex-manager when he arrived at the club but it is evident that PIF struck gold when reuniting the pair. He is the ultimate back up to Isak and likely a far more suitable option to Ekitike in their forward ranks.
With Howe set to have the duo tussling it out for a starting berth this term, there is already fierce and healthy competition for places, with missing out on the misfiring Ekitike potentially a bullet dodged as far as PIF and co are concerned.