SAALFELDEN: Eddie Howe has issued a classy message to new Paris Saint-Germain frontman Hugo Ekitike having missed out on the player’s signature.
Ekitike was one of Newcastle United’s primary targets in the summer transfer window and, despite agreeing on a fee with Reims for him, the 20-year-old player opted to hold out for a move to the current Ligue 1 champions.
And, speaking from the club’s Austrian training base, Howe revealed the attempts Newcastle had made to land the player, as well as wishing the France youth international well at Le Parc des Princes this season.
“It’s no secret that we really liked Hugo and we worked hard to try and do that deal,” Howe told our man in Austria. “He’s a very talented lad and he decided to go to PSG. I have no hard feelings toward him and wish him well in the next phase of his career. I really do wish him luck. But it is an example of the types of clubs we’re competing with to try and improve our squad.
“It’s not as easy as people think it is, and you’re going to miss out on targets and look at other options. I’ve done that before in my career and I’m sure it won’t be the last.”
Howe remains intent on signing two new forward players before the end of the transfer window on Sept. 1.
Leeds United’s Jack Harrison remains on the radar, but other targets, such as Moussa Diaby, Dominic Calvert-Lewin, and Ivan Toney, look likely to prove too expensive for the Magpies.
Meanwhile, Chelsea’s Armando Broja, a Newcastle loan target, looks all set to head to West Ham United after the clubs edged closer to a permanent agreement for the player.
A fee of around $29 million is expected to be enough to seal the deal for the English-born, Albanian international.
One player who is expected to have a big impact on Tyneside this season is Brazilian Bruno Guimaraes.
And, after his match-winning performance against 1860 Munich on Friday in which he scored one and created one in a 3-0 victory, Guimaraes is likely to start tomorrow evening’s encounter with Bundesliga outfit Mainz 05 in Kufstein.
Having revealed his Champions League dream on Tyneside last season, the former Lyon midfielder is pragmatic and does not believe the Magpies have to deliver that in just one season.
However, he does think some of the more established names in the top flight might well be in for a shock next month.
“We can surprise the other teams. We have the quality for this, the coaches, so we can do it,” said the 24-year-old player. “We are working to do our best. Of course, we dream of the Champions League. But we know it is step-by-step, we don’t need to put that pressure on ourselves. This is only the beginning, we know the big six have very good teams too.
“But I have said before, the Premier League is the most difficult championship in the world and we know if we take it step-by-step we can get there.”
Competition for places at Newcastle is very high this season, with Howe taking 30 players to Austria this summer, and only able to name a Premier League squad of 25.
Few departments are as competitive, though, as in the center of midfield.
And while Bruno is the jewel in Newcastle’s crown in that department, he thinks head coach Howe has some tough calls to make around him.
“We have some very good midfielders in the team and I think the coach will be very worried about the places because all of the players are playing well. So it is a good problem for him,” said Guimaraes. “And I’m sure whoever plays they will do their best for Newcastle.”