Newcastle United have reportedly opened talks with Nantes for Ludovic Blas, the 24-year-old Frenchman compared to Mohamed Salah.

According to the Daily Star, Premier League strugglers Newcastle United are in talks with Ligue 1 side Nantes to secure the services of Ludovic Blas.

The 24-year-old made a name for himself at Guingamp before moving to Nantes in 2019. He has since emerged as a reliable player for the French side and has made 88 appearances for the club, scoring 28 goals and assisting seven more.

Blas’s performances have not gone unnoticed, and several clubs, including Newcastle’s domestic rivals Watford, appear to be keen on signing him. Ligue 1 champions LOSC Lille and clubs from the Bundesliga are all keeping tabs on him. The attacker has already found the back of the net eight times this season, showing that scoring 11 goals last season was no fluke.

An attacking midfielder by trade, the 24-year-old has predominantly played through the centre and on the right. Blas has two years to go on his current deal at the Beaujoire Stadium, giving Nantes enough of an advantage in negotiations.

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A pacy attacker with an eye for a pass, Blas’s ability on the ball makes him a difficult player to keep quiet. He is exactly the sort of presence Newcastle United lack in the final third.

The Magpies have given themselves a reliable presence upfront, having signed Chris Wood. Adding Blas to the side will provide them with more of an attacking impetus heading into the second half of the season. Newcastle have scored 19 goals this season in the Premier League, which is the third worst record in the top flight, ahead of only Burnley and Norwich City.

Eddie Howe’s side is overly reliant on Allan Saint-Maximin to provide the creative spark. Securing Blas will hand them a two-pronged creative base that could lead to more goals in the games to come. With relegation a real possibility, Howe has to ensure that his side picks up valuable points soon.

Compared to Liverpool superstar Mohamed Salah, Blas is considered a more talented version of not just the Egyptian, but also Liverpool’s other attacking stalwarts like Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane. There is some substance to that assessment, given that the 24-year-old recorded the most successful dribbles in Ligue 1 during the 2020/21 season.

However, he still has a long way to go before matching Liverpool’s impressive trio. Blas has what it takes to be an exceptional player for several top European sides and is likely to do better with a more talented squad around him. Newcastle would be well advised to make a move for the Frenchman before any of the continent’s top sides get involved.

A move to Tyneside might not be the most advisable for the player, given the club’s status as the Premier League’s whipping boys. While the Magpies may be looking towards a brighter future, their immediate one looks bleak. Whether Blas is willing to take one step back to potentially move two forward remains to be seen.

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