Newcastle United could be set for a busy winter transfer window, that is if recent reports are to be believed.
Last week it emerged the Magpies were keeping tabs on Miguel Almirón’s former partner in crime at Atlanta United, Josef Martínez. But he was just one of a handful of players under consideration with Steve Bruce wanted to add reinforcements to his squad.
This week Spanish outlet El Gol Digital claim Sevilla attacker Rony Lopes will leave the club in January and Newcastle are one of the frontrunners to sign him.
The 23-year-old only made the move to LaLiga in the summer after five years in Ligue 1. He left Manchester City in 2014 and joined Lille. However, Lopes had his best season in France playing for Monaco, netting 15 goals during the 2017/18 campaign.
He followed that up with a two-goal showing last term but Monaco as a club had an underwhelming campaign. Lopes did enough, however, to convince Sevilla to part with €20million to acquire his services.
He was one of 15 new arrivals at the Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán Stadium. Some have settled, others haven’t. Lopes falls into the latter category and has appeared in just 11 minutes in LaLiga this term.
The former City youngster was given a 30-minute cameo in the Europa League but circa 40 minutes heading into October isn’t what Lopes would’ve imagined when he made the move.
Given the lack of playing time in Spain, it’s hard to judge the Sevilla No.7 on anything he’s done this term. If he was somehow able to recapture the form he showcased for Monaco, however, then he could prove a bargain buy in January.
Lopes was one of the star players for Leonardo Jardim’s side in the 2017/18 campaign and emerged as the man to replace Kylian Mbappé.
The diminutive left-footed maestro had it all. He scored sublime efforts worthy of YouTube compilations but also chipped in with scruffy goals, the sort every team needs.
He managed to blend the sensational with the mundane and Monaco had a serious talent on their hands.
Deployed as a wide forward with the freedom to drift inside, he was a quintessential modern-day attacker. The big difference was Lopes was often deployed on the left and would cut inside onto his weaker right foot.
Yet he always managed to get the ball back onto his trusted left when he needed it most.
A player of Lopes’ profile should excite Newcastle fans. But it’s hard to picture how he would fit into Steve Bruce’s current starting XI.
He is used to playing as part of a counter-attacking team from his time at Monaco, but they played transitional football which was focused on speed across the ground and clever use of the ball.
Newcastle, meanwhile, are more direct. They look to make the most of Joelinton’s presence and rightly so, he is a unit. But he’s also much more than a backboard. If Bruce was a little braver, the powerful Brazilian could have a lot of fun with Christian Atsu, Allan Saint-Maximin and Almirón.
Likewise, in a more expressive system, Joelinton could forge quite the understanding with Lopes. But it’s hard to see the Newcastle boss moving away from a solid, defensive structure and leaving his team exposed on the off chance they can outscore the opposition in frenetic matches.
Just like was the case with the Martínez link, the one to Lopes makes very little sense if the Magpies stick with their current guise and playing style. He’d be yet another talented attacker struggling to play his way.
Most flair players are individuals while Bruce’s system relies on the collective following instructions. It’s a bad marriage and one that would ultimately see Newcastle wasting more money on players they just can’t make the most of.
Lopes could be a revelation in the Premier League but it’s hard to see him terrorising defenders in the black and white of Newcastle.