Newcastle United are likely using this current halt to proceedings to plot potential new recruits ahead of the upcoming January transfer window, with Eddie Howe’s side hoping to further enhance their chances of Champions League qualification with a handful of quality additions.
One area that may well be something of a “priority” – in the words of journalist Craig Hope – is the central midfield berth, with the Magpies arguably in need of more strength in depth to help ease the burden of Brazilian sensation, Bruno Guimaraes.
The Tynesiders could well find a potential solution to that problem in the form of Benfica starlet, Enzo Fernandez, with the 21-year-old currently showcasing his talent for Argentina at the World Cup in Qatar.
Reports earlier this month suggested that the playmaker had been a target for the St James’ Park outfit over the summer prior to his move to Lisbon, with the exciting talent having departed former club River Plate for an initial fee of around £8.6m.
Such has been the youngster’s early impact during his time in Portugal, recent reports have now claimed that the five-cap gem – who is also attracting interest from Manchester United – could now command a far higher price, with his release clause set to stand at around €120m (£103m).
That cost may well have been warranted such has been the player’s impact for the Primeira Liga outfit in the early months of the new campaign, having scored three goals and laid on five assists in all competitions thus far, after previously netting ten times and chipping in with seven assists in his homeland last term.
A truly dynamic midfield presence, Fernandez notably ranks in the top 1% for progressive passes, as per FBref, as well as in the top 1% for attempted passes as a marker of his desire to initiate attacks for his side.
That quality has now been replicated at international level as the 5 foot 10 sensation “announced himself on the world stage” – in the words of journalist Casey Evans – during his nation’s triumph over Mexico on Saturday evening, having scored a “ridiculous” goal to seal the win on the night, according to Alexandre Gangue-Ruzic.
The creative gem produced a stunning, curling finish late on to wrap up a vital three points for the South American nation, having more than made his mark off the bench to help bolster his side’s chances of progression.
Not only was it his goal that caught the eye, however, with the San Martin-born ace having showcased his all-round talent after entering the fray early in the second half, notably winning three of his five ground duels having helped give his side a ‘foothold‘ in the game, according to the Evening Standard’s Nizaar Kinsella.
Such a showing has only further illustrated just why Howe and co were keeping tabs on his services previously, with it perhaps wise for Newcastle to firm up their interest in the New Year.