Reims striker Hugo Ekitike has revealed he didn’t move to Newcastle during the January transfer window because the timing of the move wasn’t right.
The 19-year-old has enjoyed a breakout season in Ligue 1, scoring nine goals and adding three assists in 23 league appearances, and has attracted interest from across Europe for his performances.
A winter move was eventually called off on deadline day, but Ekitike kept his options open when asked by L’Equipe about his future plans.
“I have a lot of respect for that big club. But it was all happening very quickly, the timing wasn’t right. It was better to stay here, to play a full season, to establish myself.
“It makes me smile because it gratifies my hard work. I get the impression that I exist. I know that what I’m doing on the pitch is good, it’s being recognised. And not just by anyone. It pushes me to give the best account of myself. I always want to progress and become the best.
“I consider myself to be ready for anything. Whether that’s staying here or taking up a challenge that everyone agrees with.”
Asked how he sees the summer going, he added: “I see it being lively! I think people will show interest in me. On my end, I’ll stay calm because I’m surrounded by the right people to manage all of that.”
While that window move didn’t materialise, Newcastle are still in pole position for Ekitike. Indeed, 90min understands the Magpies remain confident of concluding a deal soon.
Listen now to 90min’s brand new podcast,Talking Transfers, withScott Saunders,Graeme Bailey&Toby Cudworth. On this week’s agenda is Erling Haaland’s transfer to Manchester City, Ralf Rangnick recommending Konrad Laimer to Manchester United and the latest on the contract situations of Youri Tielemans and Sadio Mane.
Manager Eddie Howe is a big fan and the teenager wants to be a part of the project at St James’ Park. The transfer could be set out as a long-term loan with a mandatory permanent clause which would keep Newcastle within Financial Fair Play regulations.
Chris Wood and Callum Wilson are the strikers currently at Howe’s disposal, though Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Gabriel Barbosa and Eddie Nketiah are all admired by the Newcastle hierarchy.