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Newcastle “following” Kouadio Kone

Newcastle United are reportedly one of the clubs who are tracking Borussia Monchengladbach sensation Kouadio ‘Manu’ Kone, with the Magpies keen to strengthen their midfield ranks.

What’s the word?

According to transfer guru Fabrizio Romano, the Tynesiders – as well as the likes of Bayern Munich, Paris Saint-Germain and Liverpool – are believed to be closely monitoring the 21-year-old at present, albeit with any move for the Frenchman likely to occur in the summer.

Writing on Twitter regarding that interest, the respected journalist stated: “Many top clubs are following French big talent Manu Kone. Been told summer is move most likely plan for player, agents and ‘Gladbach. FC Bayern, Newcastle, PSG and also Liverpool (Bellingham remains their n1 priority) are well informed on Kone’s situation.”

This follows a recent report that named the 6 foot 1 ace as one of the northeast side’s potential midfield targets, with the youngster reportedly valued at around 45m (£40m) by the Bundesliga outfit.

Longstaff upgrade

The addition of the France U21 international could well see Newcastle boss Eddie Howe secure an upgrade on current midfield maestro, Sean Longstaff, with Kone currently thriving in Germany.

That difference in quality is evidenced by the fact that the latter man appears to have a greater, ball-winning knack as he has averaged 2.1 tackles per game in the league this term, while also ranking in the top 20% in that regard among those in his position across Europe.

Longstaff, by contrast, has averaged just 1.1 tackles per game so far this season, while also ranking in just the bottom 37% in that metric, as per FBref, illustrating his struggles at winning back possession.

Equally, the Englishman also arguably offers less in an attacking sense as he ranks in just the bottom 1% for dribbles completed and only has an 80% pass accuracy rate in the top flight this term, with that laying bare his deficiencies on the ball.

As for the Gladbach “warrior” – as lauded by talent scout Jacek Kulig – he is truly gifted at driving forward with the ball at his feet as he ranks in the top 1% for dribbles completed, while also proving far better at retaining possession as he has an 87% pass accuracy rate in the 2022/23 campaign.

Although Longstaff has started 14 of his side’s 18 Premier League games so far this term, there is a sense that the top-four hopefuls “need better” if they are to truly kick on, in the words of journalist Thomas Hammond.

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As such, bringing Kone into the fold could well prove to be the upgrade that the Magpies are craving, with the former Toulouse man a “monstrous box-to-box midfielder in the making“, as per the aforementioned Kulig.

That glowing praise is an indication of the Colombes-born gem’s undoubted talent, with it set to prove an astute move if Howe and co can secure a deal in the coming weeks, or during the summer window.