Steve Bruce should urge Newcastle United to return with an improved offer for Matheus Nunes after Sporting CP turned down the Premier League side’s initial loan-to-buy bid.
According to O Jogo, the Toon have made an official approach to sign Nunes on loan in the January transfer window in a deal featuring a £10m obligation to buy at the end of the season.
Sporting are said to have immediately rejected the proposal as they are unwilling to do business in the winter market. The Jose Alvalade Stadium natives also feel the sum tabled did not reflect the true value of the 22-year-old.
Bruce is widely known to be in the market for a new box-to-box midfielder this month, with Leicester City’s Hamza Choudhury linked amid claims United currently lack options who can offer the energy needed in the role.
The Magpies are having to look closely at the loan market to find the missing pieces to Bruce’s squad, with Mike Ashley said to be against sanctioning any major outlays as he continues in attempts to sell the St. James’ Park outfit.
Nunes is not a guaranteed starter under Sporting head coach Ruben Amorim, but has been given frequent minutes across all competitions this season to now be considered a key piece of the Leoes squad after a year spent in the Under 23s following his arrival in 2019.
Bruce has a wealth of options to choose from as his holding midfielder at St. James’ Park in Jonjo Shelvey, Isaac Hayden, Matty Longstaff, Jeff Hendrick and Sean Longstaff and has, at times, chosen to field Miguel Almiron in a deeper role in his search for a permanent solution.
Yet the United boss is clearly not as fond of some of his options as he is with others, but is running out of time to sign a winter addition that can rival for minutes with the clock fast ticking down toward the February 1st 23:00 deadline.
Nunes may not have started frequently for Sporting this season, but has shown glimpses of his potential to demonstrate why Newcastle have allegedly bid to sign the £1,900-per-week prospect on loan with a £10m obligation to buy in the summer.
The 6ft Rio de Janeiro-born talent, who holds dual nationality for being in Portugal since he was a child, has brought a physical presence to Amorim’s midfield when fielded, be it in an advanced role or as the deep-lying option, but has also shown plenty of quality on the ball.
Nunes’ pass accuracy rating in Liga NOS fixtures this term has been at a higher level than Bruce has seen from all of his central midfielders in the Premier League, and offers a presence at the top of the pitch with a fair share of shots and chances created.
Defensively, the 22-year-old stands strong, too, with a high tackle success rate and a raft of interceptions, as he breaks up opposition play to set Sporting up on the right foot but with the ability to break from the back with it rare that Nunes loses possession when attempting a dribble, per WhoScored.
Nunes not being afraid to bring the ball up the field or get back to defend would suggest he has the legs to offer Bruce what the United boss is said to be looking for in the engine room.
He also scored his first senior goal in Sporting’s 2-0 win over rivals SC Braga earlier this month to help the Leoes contend for the Liga NOS title, while winning his first title in the 2020/21 Portuguese League Cup.
Sporting may be reluctant to lose Nunes this month, but that should not stop Bruce from urging Newcastle to return to Portugal with an improved offer as the GDU Ericeirense product may be an ideal solution for the Toon’s midfield issues.
AND in other news, Steve Bruce must axe an £8m-rated total dud holding Newcastle back…