Chelsea and Manchester United have joined several Premier League clubs in keeping tabs on Reims forward Hugo Ekitike, according to reports. The 19-year-old was targeted by Newcastle towards the end of the January transfer window before the proposed move was rejected by the player himself at the eleventh hour.
The Magpies identified Ekitike as a priority target to bolster their attacking ranks after snapping up Chris Wood from Burnley at the beginning of the month.
They pushed to secure his services with a deadline-day approach and reportedly had an offer accepted by Rennes as the cut-off point drew ever closer.
However, Newcastle were ultimately snubbed by Ekitike and his representatives, who decided to stay put in order to evaluate their options at the end of the season.
It seems as if the Magpies could be set to lose out on the Reims starlet if they decide to reignite their interest in the summer, with a whole host of Premier League clubs now said to be in the frame for his signature.
Chelsea and United scouts were in attendance to see Ekitike play his first match since the end of the January window against Bordeaux on Sunday, according to 90min.
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The teenage marksman scored Reims’ opening goal in a 5-0 mauling of their opponents by tapping home from close range after his initial penalty was saved before half-time.
The report also claims that Arsenal, Tottenham, Manchester City and Liverpool were represented at the fixture, which played host to over a dozen scouts from a variety of different clubs.
Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid, Sevilla, Borussia Dortmund, Bayern Munich, Juventus, Porto, Benfica and French rivals Paris Saint Germain and Lyon were also said to have dispatched members of staff to run the rule over Ekitike’s performance against Bordeaux.
The Reims man is currently the highest-scoring teenager in any of Europe’s top five leagues after finding the back of the net on nine occasions since the beginning of the campaign.
Meanwhile, former Premier League striker Noel Whelan recently slammed Newcastle’s hierarchy for allowing a player of Ekitike’s quality to slip through their fingers in the final hours of the January window.
“When they’ve not been in the business for a very long time, they’ve got to be realistic,” Whelan told Football Insider earlier this month.
“You’ve never been in touch, nowhere near, not even in striking distance to European football, let alone Champions League football.
“We know for a fact that building that team is not going to give them Champions League football in one season. It’s just not.
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“Look at what Liverpool had to do to be consistently there. Man City are consistently there. Chelsea are consistently there.
“This is not going to happen overnight, no matter how much money Newcastle have. Putting in these bonuses, even an FA Cup bonus, right now is unrealistic.
“If you want that player, put your money where your mouth is, do the deal and get them into the football club.”
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George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism