Newcastle United are stepping up their January plans and might potentially make a January swoop for rising Ligue 1 talent El Bilal Toure.

According to The Sun, Newcastle United’s temporary transfer consultant, Nick Hammond, wants the Magpies hierarchy to sign Stade de Reims striker El Bilal Touré in the upcoming January transfer window.

Currently sitting second from bottom in the Premier League table, it is fair to say Newcastle’s recruitment team has a big task on hand to operate in the market while keeping their long-term prospects and short-term priorities in check in the upcoming January window.

While rumours of Brighton and Hove Albion’s Dan Ashworth potentially joining Newcastle United as director of football do the rounds, the new owners have hired former Celtic supremo Nick Hammond on a short-term basis who will lead the recruitment drive next month, working alongside Newcastle’s head of scouting Steve Nickson and manager Eddie Howe.

Going by Newcastle’s recent transfer links to Lucas Paqueta, Sven Botman and Boubacar Kamara, it seems the Magpies are trying to exploit the French Ligue 1 to raid promising young talents, which could be an effective strategy. Nick Hammond pressing for a deal for Reims attacker Bilal Toure falls into the same category.

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After spending his formative years at the prestigious Ivoire Académie and Afrique Football Élite academy, Toure moved from Mali to France in January 2020 and joined the youth setup at Stade de Reims. The Malian played two games, scoring two goals and one assist before being promoted to the first team, where he has been a regular.

Toure boasts a decent tally of eight goals from 27 Ligue 1 starts. Still in the fledgling stages of his career, the 20-year-old was a sought-after commodity last summer with mounting interests from Ajax, Tottenham Hotspur, Red Bull Salzburg and AS Monaco.

However, a move did not materialize regardless of his best attempts to force an exit, as he refused to join the preseason camp. Reportedly willing to leave Reims, Touré’s current deal with the Ligue 1 side runs until 2024. And it now appears Newcastle are keen to add the young prodigy to their ranks.

Though attacking reinforcements are not a priority for Newcastle, Howe looks keen to add more firepower to his frontline given their overreliance on Callum Wilson for goals. But Toure does not seem to be that kind of profile. Instead, he can be viewed as a part of a long-term project.

Having only one goal to his name this term undermines his all-round game. A lanky physical presence with pace to burn and the ability to work the channels, the Malian is a modern-day striker. He can hold the ball up well with his back to the goal and link-up play with his teammates effectively.

While he needs to improve his finishing and is still very raw, Toure is an exciting young talent worth a roll of dice. In the longer run, he would represent a smart signing. However, Newcastle need a more experienced and established forward to start firing goals immediately at the Premier League level and help their survival bid.

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