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Newcastle could forget about Maddison by signing Matheus Franca

Newcastle United sporting director Dan Ashworth appears to be keen to strengthen the current squad with the addition of promising young talents who can be nurtured and developed by Eddie Howe over the coming years, with the transfer chief casting his net far and wide in the search to find potential gems.

It would appear that the 51-year-old has taken a particular interest in the Brazilian market having been linked with the likes of Angelo Gabriel and Vitor Roque in recent months, while 90min reported just a few weeks ago that the Tynesiders are in talks to sign Flamengo sensation Matheus Franca.

The report suggested at the time that the Magpies were ‘growing in confidence’ that a deal could be completed, with the 18-year-old having previously been linked with a £15m switch to Crystal Palace.

The teenager – who has a release clause of closer to £87m – could well be in line to make the move to St James’ Park before the end of the month, with journalist Ryan Taylor suggesting to GIVEMESPORT that Ashworth appears to be crucial in the pursuit of the playmaker.

The Daily Express reporter stated: “You look at Newcastle’s team, and although they’ve been exceptional already this season you look at that [midfield] as an area that could be upgraded.

“I know there has been interest in Matheus Franca and Newcastle are looking at that Brazilian market as one where there could be opportunities. That’s down to Dan Ashworth.”

A new attacking midfielder has appeared to be something of a priority for the Magpies of late, with the club having notably made a reported £50m offer to sign Leicester City’s James Maddison over the summer, with another approach having also been mooted prior to the current transfer window.

However, despite the Englishman having just 18 months remaining on his existing deal with the Foxes, it will seemingly not be easy to prise the 26-year-old away from the Midlands, hence the potential need to seek an alternative elsewhere.

Although it could prove difficult to find a target who can match Maddison’s rampant recent form – having recorded 11 goal involvements in only 13 league games this term – turning to Franca would see Ashworth and co secure another creative talent of remarkable potential.

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The Flamengo starlet is still in the early stages of his senior career, but he already boasts a haul of seven goals from 26 first-team appearances so far, having been described as “one of the most exciting teenagers in Brazil at the moment” by talent scout Jacek Kulig.

While typically operating in a free role behind the striker – just like Maddison – the Rio de Janeiro native can seemingly play “almost everywhere” according to Kulig, so the 18-year-old would provide Howe with invaluable versatility were he to transfer to England.

The emerging talent offers real dynamism and creativity in attack as he averages 3.33 progressive passes and 2.18 completed dribbles per game, while Maddison has averaged 3.87 and 0.86 per match respectively for those two metrics.

The Flamengo wonderkid can also seemingly best the Englishman’s defensive quality as he averages 2.05 tackles per game, compared to 1.8 for the Leicester ace, with that a marker of his willingness to defend from the front for his team.

Being able to land an all-rounder who can play a variety of positions will likely be a hugely attractive prospect for Newcastle, with such a signing potentially able to see them quickly about Maddison if Franca can go on to hit the ground running in English football.