Newcastle endured a rollercoaster of a deadline day earlier this week as they completed key deals and missed out on big targets.
The Magpies officially announced the arrivals of Matt Targett, on loan from Aston Villa, and Dan Burn, on a permanent from Brighton, but they were hoping to do more.
They reportedly failed in their attempts to land Reims centre-forward Hugo Ekitike and Manchester United attacking midfielder Jesse Lingard, with both deals collapsing on Monday.
After the deadline passed, The Athletic ran a story overviewing how the window went and included a snippet on Benfica frontman Darwin Nunez.
The Magpies reportedly made a number of checks on him throughout January and ultimately failed to make a worthwhile offer for his services.
Forget about missing out on Ekitike, the club’s decision not to make a bid for Nunez was clearly PIF’s biggest error on deadline day.
The Uruguayan striker could have been an incredible addition to the squad and a far better signing than the Frenchman, who ultimately ended up staying in Ligue 1 anyway. He has been in phenomenal form for Benfica this season, scoring 12 goals and providing two assists in 13 league starts, along with three goals in two starts in the Champions League.
This means that he is averaging a direct goal contribution every 0.88 starts – highlighting the regularity with which he is able to make a telling impact in the final third. He is delivering week-in-week-out and still has potential to improve at the age of 22.
His former manager Jorge Jesus previously heaped praise on the predator and tipped him for big things, stating: “All this decision-making ability, finishing and speed… He was Benfica’s most expensive purchase, and when there is no pandemic, he will be the most expensive sale. He will be a world-class player. Unfortunately for me, maybe I will lose him in a short time.”
Ekitike, meanwhile, has eight goals and two assists in 18 Ligue 1 matches (11 starts) for Reims this term – working out a goal contribution every 1.1 starts. This suggests that Nunez is the better option out of the two in terms of his output in front of goal, particularly given that he has also proven it in the Champions League – Europe’s premier competition.
Therefore, PIF’s biggest error on deadline day was not failing to complete a deal for the teenage attacker, it was not acting on their interest in the Benfica hitman. They should have pursued a move for the 22-year-old as his statistics suggest that he could have been a stellar signing for Eddie Howe’s squad.