Bruno Guimaraes will have one final request if he does join Newcastle United and that is to wear the vacant number 39 shirt.
It is a tribute to his father, Dick, who had the same rank number on the side of the taxi he drove to support his family. It was in this very taxi that Guimaraes’ parents travelled nearly 270 miles every Sunday to watch their son play for Audax as a youngster.
Guimaraes has never lost sight of where he has come from – even travelling to an awards ceremony in that same yellow taxi back in 2019 – and it is easy to see why Newcastle received some glowing reports on the 24-year-old’s character.
Given some of the inflated prices Newcastle have been quoted, this mooted £33.5m deal would actually represent a very smart piece of business for a player with his best years ahead of him – if the Magpies manage to get it done, that is.
Although Lyon previously issued similar statements before selling Ferland Mendy and countless other footballers over the years, the Ligue 1 side still took the extraordinary step of ‘categorically’ denying that an agreement had been reached with Newcastle on Wednesday afternoon.
It was yet another reminder of how hard it is to secure a statement signing like this in the mid-season window, but it would be a real coup if Newcastle manage to eventually pull it off.
Guimaraes is not just a player for today, but someone to build a team around moving forward. Rather than such players eventually being sold on for a huge profit, as was the case in the Ashley era, the hope is that they will be able to realise their ambitions with Newcastle in the years to come.
The timing of this move for Guimaraes actually brings back memories of a similar bid for Boubakary Soumare, another France-based midfielder, two years ago.
Soumare was also attracting a lot of interest so the Lille star ultimately turned down a mid-season move to Newcastle to keep his options open.
It is a different regime now, of course, and the club’s owners have been told that Guimaraes wants to be a part of this new era.
So what would a complete midfielder like Guimaraes bring and why are Newcastle so keen to sign him?
As well as potentially giving Newcastle more control in the middle of the park, the unselfish Brazilian can also carry the ball forward and cut defences open with his passes. Off the ball, the hard-working Guimaraes is a real asset when it comes to pressing opponents and regularly clocks up 13k a game.
Newcastle still desperately need a quality centre-back, but a signing like Guimaraes could also ease the pressure on the Magpies’ leaky backline with his ability to win the ball back further up the pitch.
Guimaraes is also just the kind of technical player Howe would relish working with as he looks to slowly change the way this team plays and ease their reliance on transitions so they become more front-footed.
Bournemouth averaged 49.28% possession during Howe’s previous five campaigns in the Premier League, but Newcastle have had just 39.2% of the ball, on average, since the head coach came in.
Newcastle have struggled to break down teams who sit back for some time now, but Guimaraes could help give the black-and-whites a new dimension in that respect.
Guimaraes has only played in Europe for two years now, but the Brazilian made an instant impact at Lyon – going on to play in a Champions League semi-finals – and has long dreamed of making the next step in the Premier League.
Guimaraes has even been learning English for a while now and it is hoped he could quickly adjust to life in another new country and help keep Newcastle in the Premier League and take them up the table in the years to come.
But there is still work to do to make that a reality.
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