Newcastle United could miss out on Portuguese club star Manuel Ugarte this summer with Aston Villa plotting a raid for the defensive midfielder.
The Magpies have long held an interest in ‘powerhouse‘ midfielder Manuel Ugarte from Sporting, but as they focus their attention elsewhere, Aston Villa are looking to swoop in ahead of them.
According to the Daily Mail, Aston Villa are now the frontrunners for Ugarte. Super agent Jorge Mendes has been speaking to several Premier League clubs about Ugarte and Villa have joined the race at the right time as Newcastle, along with other prospective clubs are currently occupied with other priorities.
Ugarte is a rock in that defensive midfield role
Sporting’s battling midfielder has a £55million release clause which means that any club can skip the pesky transfer negotiation phase and go right to the player which means it all comes down to what the club can offer.
Liverpool and Chelsea are also in the frame for Ugarte in England, and you’d like to think that Newcastle could play the Champions League card come the end of the season which the other candidates cannot. There’s still a chance Liverpool could sneak into the competition which would complicate things, but Chelsea and Villa can’t offer the same.
This season Ugarte is in the top 1% of midfielders in Europe’s top five leagues for successful tackles according to FBref and in the top 2% for interceptions. Not much gets past him.
Newcastle need a player like Ugarte for next season
I really hope Newcastle don’t sleep on this one. The 22-year-old has been Sporting’s standout player this season and Newcastle have been keeping an eye on him for months, it would be a shame to let him slip away now.
Newcastle are looking for a defensive midfielder and Ugarte is one of the best in the game at the minute. Newcastle look lost without Sean Longstaff in that holding role at the minute, and forcing Bruno Guimaraes into that position is stifling his performances – not helped by the ankle knock he’s carrying.
It’s imperative that Newcastle bring in more options in that CDM role this summer, and unless they’re working on someone even better, then letting Ugarte go to another club could be a mistake.