Mike Ashley should block Newcastle United from signing Nuno Tavares after it was revealed that SL Benfica will demand £25.5m to sell the young defender this summer.
According to O Jogo, the Liga NOS giants have slapped a €30m (£25.5m) valuation on Tavares as SSC Napoli prepare to launch an assault on the Estádio Sport Lisboa e Benfica.
The Serie A outfit are seen as the most determined party in the race to sign Tavares, but believe As Aguias’ asking price does not reflect the 21-year-old’s true value and will strive to reach an agreement at a lesser sum.
Napoli are confident they will be able to edge out rival Premier League interest to land Tavares, who is being closely tracked by scouts from Newcastle and Burnley.
Neither the Toon nor Clarets have yet formalised their position on the full-back as they focus efforts on top-flight survival, which has left the door wide open for Napoli to swoop.
The Diego Armando Maradona Stadium natives are keen on signing Tavares as they consider the Portugal U21 international to be the best option available to improve the left-back position in Gennaro Gattuso’s squad.
Tavares has stood out to the decision-makers in Naples for his speed and physical talents, as they expect the former Sporting CP trainee to offer a strong offensive presence but with the ability to track back and deliver an effective defensive contribution.
He has offered three assists and helped Benfica to keep eight clean sheets in 21 games under Jorge Jesus across all competitions this term, but has only started 11 of his outings and featured for a combined 1,097 minutes or an average of 52 per match.
Tavares appears to have a high ceiling to his potential with Napoli also noted to consider the 21-year-old as having more room for development than Benfica’s €40m (£34.5m) valued Grimaldo, whom they had targeted for the past two seasons.
O Jogo revealing that Benfica have set a £25.5m asking price for Tavares should be enough to see Ashley step in and block Newcastle from contending with Napoli or Burnley for the defender’s services, as it is a high price to pay for a relatively unproven talent.
Newcastle are thought to be in the market for a new full-back to support Jamal Lewis after his £15m transfer from Norwich City last summer, with Matt Ritchie likely to leave at the end of the season, per The Shields Gazette.
Tavares would have made a good signing for the Magpies if As Aguias were open to a move closer to his TransferMarkt valuation of £6.5m, as he would then have represented a far smaller risk than becoming United’s second-most expensive signing of all-time – behind only Joelinton’s £40m arrival in 2019.
The Toon would need Tavares to come in and be an instant upgrade on Lewis and start most, if not every, week if signed for the alleged fee needed, which cannot be guaranteed as he is susceptible to the same failings as Steve Bruce finds in Lewis.
Benfica boss Jesus hit out at the Portuguese prospect for the goal he allowed Arsenal score and eliminate his side from the Europa League earlier this month, as Tavares failed to prevent Bukayo Saka from crossing to Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in the closing stages.
“In those two goals, both Everton [for Kieran Tierney’s goal] and Nuno Tavares [for Aubameyang’s] had the play controlled and we could have prevented the finish. These are two important details, after the team played an excellent game against a great team,” Jesus said, via quotes by Tribal Football.
“We conceded goals in two situations that have nothing to do with the team, because the team was all positioned in the back. We were easy in those two plays and we were beaten one-on-one.”
AND in other news, Newcastle have landed a boost in any hopes of signing a “terrific” £20k-p/w star…