Reports in The Sun on Sunday on January 28 suggested that Newcastle United have been offered the chance to sign Gremio forward and Brazil international Luan for £17.5m before the January transfer window slams shut on Wednesday, in what has been another disappointing month in the market so far for manager Rafa Benitez.
The Spaniard was furious this time last year when the Tyneside outfit failed to bring anyone in to boost their promotion push, but as it turned out it didn’t prove to be significant as the Toon secured an instant return to the Premier League as champions on the final day of the season.
The summer transfer window didn’t go to plan for the former Liverpool and Real Madrid boss either, and he certainly would have liked to have added more Premier League experience – and quality in general – to his squad than he did, while he also didn’t get the goalkeeper that he wanted.
Takeover talks in recent months would have excited the 57-year-old as he would have been potentially getting the financial backing from a new owner that hasn’t always been forthcoming under Mike Ashley, but the news that the Sports Direct tycoon pulled out of talks with Amanda Staveley’s PCP Capital Partners group last month certainly wouldn’t have been well received.
Benitez claimed last month that he wanted all of his January business done by the 20th, yet on Deadline Day they have only signed Chelsea winger Kenedy on loan, while they have so far failed to secure a deal for Feyenoord striker Nicolai Jorgensen and lost out to fellow strugglers West Bromwich Albion in the race to sign Liverpool centre-forward Daniel Sturridge on loan.
Newcastle and Ashley know that the club needs to end the window on a high to convince Rafa to not only want to stay, but also to prove their ambition for the future as they look to secure their Premier League status for at least another year – the Magpies currently lie in 15th position and are only out of the relegation zone on goal difference.
Bringing Luan to St James’ Park would certainly be a statement of intent, and it would boost a manager and a passionate fan base that will be frustrated with recent events on and off the pitch.
The 24-year-old attacker has long been linked with a move to Liverpool, and that is of little surprise as he has scored 36 goals and provided a further 22 assists in 131 appearances for Gremio, according to Transfermarkt.
His form for the Brazilian outfit has seen him called up to play for the Brazil national team on two occasions so far, and he ended 2017 with 15 goals and six assists in 32 matches.
Luan usually plays as a second striker but he has also played as an attacking midfielder, right winger and even as a centre-forward for Gremio in the past, showing his versatility.
While he isn’t the best at winning balls in the air, WhoScored.com lists his strengths as his ability to finish, holding on to the ball, playing through balls and key passes and his passing in general.
The 24-year-old made 37 key passes in 20 Brazilian top flight games in 2017, while he had an overall passing accuracy of 83.5%.
The forward is a creator and has shown that he can be a goalscorer, and while there is certainly no guarantee that he would be an instant success in the Premier League – as there isn’t with any player that arrives from abroad – Luan looks to have the ability to make a big impression in England.
There is a feeling around St James’ Park and from a neutral point of view that Newcastle need to pull something big out of the bag on Deadline Day, and bringing Luan to the club could be the proof of ambition that Rafa needs to see to convince him that his long-term future lies on Tyneside.
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