Manchester United, Liverpool and Chelsea have entered the race to sign Hugo Ekitike from Reims and have sent scouts to watch the highly-rated French striker.
According to 90min, Manchester United, Liverpool and Chelsea have all set their sights on Reims striker Hugo Ekitike and are among numerous clubs to have sent representatives to watch 19-year-old in action last weekend.
Ekitike began his footballing journey at Cormontreuil FC before joining the Reims youth setup in 2013. He did not break into the first team until the start of this season, having spent the last campaign on loan at Danish top division side Vejle Boldklub, where he made quite the impression and scored three times in 11 appearances.
However, the 19-year-old’s real burst to prominence has come at Reims this season. He has been one of the rising stars in Ligue 1, notching up nine goals from 19 league games. No Under-20 player has scored more goals in the big five European leagues this term.
As a result of his red-hot form, Ekitike has drawn comparisons to Paris Saint-Germain superstar Kylian Mbappe. The fact that the Reims striker is just two goals shy of matching Mbappe’s league tally this term is a testament to the 19-year-old’s ability in front of goal.
His potential alerted Newcastle during the January transfer window. The Toon had a £33 million bid accepted by Reims on deadline day, only for the player to reject the Magpies, with his agent claiming that the project did not convince him. Their interest remains for the summer but they will face stiff competition, with the talent already being tracked by a plethora of Premier League clubs, including Chelsea, Manchester United and Liverpool.
Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel could certainly do with another striker in the ranks, considering that not one player in his team has reached double figures yet in the goal department. Record signing Romelu Lukaku has failed to live up to the expectations so far in his second spell at Stamford Bridge, largely due to a lack of confidence and injury issues. So it makes sense that the Blues are keeping tabs on a future talent like Ekitike.
Liverpool’s search for a new striker following the decline of Roberto Firmino is already underway, with many names on their radar. Ekitike could be an ideal fit for Jurgen Klopp’s gegenpressing system owing to his unique skillset boasting speed, agility and intense pressing.
Manchester United tracking the promising attacker does not come as a surprise, with Mason Greenwood suspended indefinitely, Anthony Martial’s Old Trafford future in doubt, and Edinson Cavani’s contract expiring at the end of the season. Also, with Cristiano Ronaldo recently turning 37 years old, the Red Devils desperately need to overhaul their striking options in the summer.
Apart from the vast interest from Premier League clubs, the player is also monitored by numerous European giants including Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, Paris Saint-Germain, Juventus and Porto. The Frenchman is under contract at his current side until 2024, with Reims likely to demand a hefty sell-on clause along with a transfer fee to let their prized asset leave in the summer.
With the race heating up for Ekitike’s signature, it will be interesting to see where the French Under-20 international will be plying his trade next season.