Newcastle leading Liverpool and Man City in £87m race for Leverkusen star Wirtz

Eddie Howe staying grounded after Newcastle United’s ‘amazing night’ against PSG

Newcastle are reportedly leading the race for Bayer Leverkusen star Florian Wirtz, with top clubs around Europe also keen on the playmaker. The midfielder has continued to impress in the Bundesliga so far this season, scoring one and assisting three in seven league appearances.

Eddie Howe’s side have made a strong start to the season, winning four of their opening eight matches, and sit in eighth place in the Premier League. Newcastle have also coped well with the additional Champions League fixtures so, with their 4-1 win over Paris Saint-Germain earlier this month highlighting that the squad are capable of going toe to toe with any top side.

The Magpies have reaped the benefits of adding a sprinkling of talent to their already strong side. The addition of Sandro Tonali has added quality and experience to their midfield, with Tino Livramento and Harvey Barnes impressing when called upon as well.

Newcastle are now looking at how they can bolster their ranks in the January transfer window, and such a solid start to the campaign could convince the higher powers at St James’ Park that marquee signings are now needed if the team are to reach the next level and win trophies. According to SPORT, Germany international Wirtz has been identified as a target, with Manchester City and Liverpool among other sides monitoring his situation.

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The Magpies are said to be among the favourites to secure the signature of the 20-year-old, despite a fee in the region of £87million being required for Leverkusen to part ways with the midfielder. The playmaker’s significant price tag has proved a stumbling block for interested sides previously, with Barcelona recently pulling out of the race to acquire his services.

Howe has been keen to add creativity to his midfield over the last 12 months, with James Maddison cited as a top target in Tyneside before his move to Tottenham. However, missing out on the England international may be viewed as a blessing in disguise at Newcastle given that Wirtz is the most creative youngster in Europe.

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Squawka reports that since the start of the 2021/22 season, the No. 10 has created more chances than any Under-23 player in Europe’s top five leagues – averaging 3.12 per 90 minutes. Liverpool star Dominik Szoboszlai (2.43), Wolves’ Pedro Neto (2.27) and Crystal Palace winger Michael Olise (2.22) also feature in the top ten, though Wirtz is head and shoulders above the rest statistically.

It remains to be seen whether Newcastle make their move to sign the exciting prospect in the January transfer window or opt to sign a more defensive-minded player due to the risk of Tonali spending a spell on the sidelines, with the Italian Football Federation currently investigating alleged illegal betting activity involving the ex-AC Milan star.

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