Newcastle United and West Ham United are reportedly keeping tabs on Hellas Verona midfielder Antonin Barak after his impressive start to the season.

According to the print edition of L’Arena, as relayed by TuttoHellasVerona, Newcastle United and West Ham are closely monitoring the progress of Hellas Verona playmaker Antonin Barak.

The report adds that Newcastle are the frontrunners to sign the Czech attacking midfielder since the Magpies intend to take the forward step. It is claimed that the Magpies are ready to put more than €25 million on the table for Barák and have already sent officials to compile scout reports on the midfielder after being impressed.

Barak spent his formative years at FK Příbram before joining Czech giants Slavia Prague. After making a big impression in his breakout season with Slavia, he attracted interest from several Italian clubs. Udinese subsequently snapped up the talented midfielder for a nominal fee in the summer of 2017.

It looked like Udinese had found another hidden gem after he scored seven goals from 34 Serie A appearances during his debut campaign in 2017/18. However, after struggling to reproduce the success from his first season, a loan stint with Lecce helped him get back on track in Italian football. Hellas Verona then jumped at the opportunity and signed Barak on loan in September 2020 with an option to buy.

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The 26-year-old has proven to be a success at Stadio Marcantonio Bentegodi. He produced seven goals and three assists in 34 Serie A outings forcing Gialloblu to sign him permanently. He has started the current campaign brightly, scoring four goals and assisting from 11 games this term. Barak excelled for the Czech Republic in Euro 2020, helping them to the competition’s quarter-finals, demonstrating his capacity to produce at the biggest stage.

Newcastle’s new owners are looking at potential transfer targets to help them steer away from the relegation zone. As things stand, the Magpies’ sit 19th in the Premier League, having failed to register a single win from their first ten games. So, it would be a hard draw to sign top-notch players but they can make do with several canny signings. Barak seems to be a realistic target on their shortlist.

Newcastle’s recent links to Donny van de Beek and James Ward-Prowse signifies that the Toon are scouting the market for a playmaker to link up the play and create chances for their attacking talents in Allan Saint-Maximin and Callum Wilson. Newcastle’s apparent lack of creativity in the middle of the park makes their attacks look disjointed. Barak could address that problem.

He would bring creativity and energy to Newcastle’s midfield. His versatility means he can play in multiple midfield positions or wider areas. However, the Magpies will have to battle West Ham for his signing. L’Arena reported in July that West Ham were willing to pay about £10 million to lure the 26-year-old to the London Stadium, but the deal ultimately fell through.

It is believed that the Hammers still retain interest and are keen to add to their Czech contingent. However, given their depth in the position, Moyes should prioritise strengthening other areas of the pitch, such as a new striker. Only time will tell whether either side makes a move for Barak come January.

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