Barcelona are reportedly set to rival Newcastle United and a host of other clubs in the race to sign Stade Reims’ teenage striker Hugo Ekitike.
According to a report from Fichajes, Barcelona have entered the race to sign Stade Reims striker Hugo Ekitike, who is also a transfer target for several clubs across Europe, including Newcastle United.
Ekitike came through the youth ranks at Reims and went on to make his first-team debut for the club in 2020, at the age of 18. The teenage striker was loaned out to Danish outfit Vejle BK for the second half of the 2020/21 campaign, where he failed to shine. Since returning to France in the summer, though, the 19-year-old is starting to show his true potential.
So far this term, Ekitike has scored eight goals in 17 Ligue 1 appearances this season while registering three assists. The striker has impressed with his all-round abilities, catching the attention of several clubs across Europe, including Barcelona and Newcastle United.
Barcelona are in the market for a new centre-forward this transfer window after losing Sergio Aguero to early retirement. While Luuk de Jong has impressed since the turn of the year, his future at Camp Nou remains shrouded in uncertainty, leaving the Catalan giants short on natural centre-forwards.
While the likes of Memphis Depay and Martin Braithwaite can play through the middle, they have underwhelmed in the past. Hence, manager Xavi Hernandez is keen on adding another No. 9, with Juventus striker Alvaro Morata being touted as a key target. However, as per recent reports, the Blaugrana have ended their pursuit of the Spaniard.
It has seemingly led them to identify alternate options, with Ekitike emerging as a target. However, they will likely face competition from Premier League outfit Newcastle United in the race to sign the 19-year-old. The Magpies have made a strong start to the transfer window, recruiting Kieran Trippier and Chris Wood already.
While Wood’s arrival does bolster their options in the centre-forward role, Callum Wilson’s worrisome injury record means that Eddie Howe could use more depth in attack. And Ekitike can be a viable option for the Tyneside outfit as he can be groomed into a future first-choice No. 9 at St. James’ Park.
The report adds that apart from Barcelona and Newcastle United, PSG, Sevilla and Borussia Dortmund are also interested in the 19-year-old. At the same time, there have been links with Tottenham Hotspur and West Ham United as well. Ekitike will likely cost less than €20 million, and it will be interesting to see if any club launches a move to sign him up.