Newcastle United will no doubt be one of a handful of sides who are currently ruing their inability to sign Ajax starlet Mohammed Kudus, with the Ghana international having thrust himself into wider focus following his sensational display against Rangers in midweek.
Reports late last month had suggested that the Magpies were one of the clubs who were eyeing a possible swoop before deadline day, while fellow Premier League side Everton were also believed to be in talks regarding a potential deal.
As it proved, despite the 22-year-old reportedly going on strike, no departure came to fruition, with his current boss Alfred Schreuder having insisted that he wanted to keep the youngster having already seen a host of top talent leave the Johan Cruyff Arena.
Managing to keep the 5 foot 10 sensation – who was reportedly the subject of a £15m bid from the Toffees – in Amsterdam has proven a real masterstroke for Erik ten Hag’s successor, with Kudus having showcased his quality on the European stage on Wednesday night.
Thrust into the starting lineup as the Eredivisie side’s main focal point, the £9m-rated man simply ran Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s side ragged in the Champions League group stage opener, notably laying on an assist and netting a goal of his own in that brutal 4-0 triumph.
That effort unsurprisingly stole the headlines such was its brilliance, as he simply shrugged off Gers skipper James Tavernier before rifling a stunning left-footed strike into the far corner past a helpless Jon McLaughlin.
The former Nordsjaelland ace dazzled with both his speed and trickery throughout that one-sided affair, notably almost netting a second after the break after weaving his way past the opposition defence with ease, as the likes of Connor Goldson and James Sands simply could not live with him.
Lauded as a “superstar” by journalist Owuraku Ampofo for that display, the highly-rated prospect also caught the eye with his impressive overall statistics, completing five of his six attempted dribbles, while also achieving a 100% pass accuracy rate.
That is no mean feat in a game of such magnitude, with that performance an indication as to just why he was so highly coveted by Newcastle – and others – in the recent window.
While he has just eight goals and five assists in 49 games for his current side at present – after netting 14 goals in 47 games during his time in Denmark – it looks as if this could well be the season that the young “baller”, as dubbed by Kwame Benaiah, truly explodes.
Amid the current shortage of quality attacking options at Howe’s disposal at St James’ Park – a fact exacerbated by injuries to both Callum Wilson and Allan Saint-Maximin – it appears a notable blunder not to have got a deal over the line for Kudus this summer.