Newcastle are looking to steal a march on rivals ahead of the January window as they are reportedly already in negotiations to land Brazilian teenager Matheus Franca. Franca, 18, is being watched by a host of top European teams having had a breakthrough season with Flamengo.

Franca, an attacking midfielder that is considered Flamengo’s greatest talent since they sold Vinicius Jnr to Real Madrid in 2018, would certainly add extra flair and quality should he make the move to the north east.  

In his first year as a professional, Franca has gone on to win the Copa do Brasil and the Copa Libertadores, which has put interested teams on alert. Now, Brazilian outlet Globo report that Newcastle have started negotiations with Flamengo in a bid to land Franca.  Eddie Howe is eager to add reinforcements to his squad next month as they look to sustain their bid to secure Champions League football.

His professional career is in its infancy but, so far, he has played 25 games and scored six goals. Sportsmail reported last month that Crystal Palace have been considering an ambitious move for the Flamengo star. Howe has been open with the fact that he is seeking a ‘transformational’ signing, much like the pick-up of Brazilian midfielder Bruno Guimaraes. 

Howe said recently: ‘We would love another transfer like  because I thought it was transformational for the team and for the group.  ‘They are difficult players to find but that’s our job to try and find them and we will endeavour to do that. 

But the teenager is rated so highly that Flamengo tied him to a five-year contract last January which includes an £87million (100m Euro) release clause, the biggest in the club’s history, which could complicate any approach.

‘I am not pretending to watch players, I am watching them, with a view to signing them. I am not acting that out when I am alone at home!’  Franca, who would fit that transformational brief, is among the nominees to be crowned the Best U20 Brazilian player, with voting opening for the Samba Awards next month. 

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