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Newcastle in “talks” for Matheus Franca

Newcastle United sporting director Dan Ashworth has seemingly set his sights on another youthful addition, with the Magpies having already brought in Australian gem Garang Kuol in recent months.

What’s the word?

According to transfer insider Graeme Bailey, the northeast side are currently in negotiations regarding a move for Flamengo sensation, Matheus Franca, having been linked with the 18-year-old last month.

Writing on Twitter about that developing situation, the respected journalist stated: “Newcastle continue talks with Flamengo over Brazilian teenager Matheus Franca.”

In the attached piece for 90min, the report suggests that the St James’ Park outfit are ‘growing in confidence’ that a deal can be completed, with the youngster said to be keen on making the move to Europe.

The Daily Mail had previously reported that fellow Premier League side Crystal Palace were eyeing a £15m swoop for the Brazilian gem, although the forward’s release clause is said to be as high as 100m (£87m).

Bye bye Wood

The highly-sought gem – who can feature in an attacking midfield role or in a centre-forward berth – has warranted such interest as a result of his breakout form of late, having already fired in six goals in just 25 games at senior level for his current side.

The 6-foot sensation has earned notable praise for his devastating talents from talent scout Jacek Kulig, with the youth expert having stated last year: “Great midfielder, great striker, he can play almost everywhere. One of the most exciting teenagers in Brazil at the moment.”

Such quality is also evidenced by the fact that Franca ranks in the top 1% for progressive passes and the top 2% for dribbles completed among those in his position in the ‘Men’s next eight competitions’, as per FBref, with that illustrating the creative flair that the emerging prospect can also offer.

Impressively, the Rio-born marksman also appears to possess an encouraging work ethic as he ranks in the top 1% for tackles made and the top 10% for interceptions, with Newcastle boss Eddie Howe likely to relish working with such an all-round package.

The addition of the Brazil U20 international could also help to hasten the exit of current Magpies marksman, Chris Wood, with the former Leeds United man having been heavily linked with a return to Elland Road of late.

The New Zealand international has scored just five goals in 37 games in all competitions since his “strange” £25m switch from Burnley a year ago – as described by talkSPORT pundit Gabby Agbonlahor – having rarely been able to impress under Howe of late.

Although injuries to the likes of Callum Wilson and Alexander Isak have allowed the 31-year-old to enjoy a more prominent role in recent weeks, the towering forward failed to truly take that chance, having been ‘wasteful‘ in the draw with Leeds, as per Newcastle World’s Dominic Scurr.

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A figure who simply looks “lost” at present in the black and white jersey, according to pundit Tam McManus, the £80k-per-week dud should well be resigned to the scrap heap sooner rather than later, with the signing of a more youthful and exciting asset such as Franca set to be the final nail in the coffin with regards to Wood’s time at Newcastle.

Although Ashworth was unable to get Chelsea-bound wonderkid Andrey Santos in the door, the Englishman could make up for that blunder by signing the Flamengo dynamo in the coming weeks.