Newcastle United have been linked with a move for Real Valladolid sensation Ivan Fresneda in recent days, with Magpies manager Eddie Howe seeking a potential long-term heir to Kieran Trippier at right-back.
What’s the word?
According to the Daily Mail, the Tynesiders are seemingly ready to ‘ramp up’ their interest in the highly coveted 18-year-old, with the Premier League high-flyers said to have sent chief scout Steve Nixon to watch the Spaniard in action against Real Madrid last month.
The report adds that Newcastle are keen to win the race for the teenager’s signature ahead of top-flight rivals Arsenal – among others – with the player’s agent Luis Bardaji said to be awaiting an offer for the full-back.
The suggestion is that despite previous claims that the youngster has a buyout clause of around €30m (26m), the report outlines that the figure could be closer to just £8.8m.
Fresneda could be ‘special’ at St James’ Park
While some Toon supporters may be questioning the wisdom of bringing in a player who has just 13 senior appearances to his name, the general consensus is that Howe and co would be securing the services of a “very special talent” – as Fresneda was called by ESPN’s David Cartlidge – if a deal is agreed.
The “remarkably complete” teenager, as lauded by La Liga expert Matt Clark, has enjoyed a stunning start to the current campaign, notably averaging 3.4 tackles, 1.4 interceptions and 1.1 key passes per game from his nine top-flight appearances.
To put that into perspective, while the aforementioned Trippier has been far superior creatively from his 19 league outings this term with 2.7 key passes per game, the 32-year-old has only averaged 2.1 tackles and 1.3 interceptions per match by comparison.
The “striking” teenager – as lauded by Cartlidge – also compares favourably to those in his position in Europe’s top five leagues, as he ranks in the top 1% for tackles made and the top 8% for interceptions to further illustrate his defensive prowess.
Any fears over whether the former Real Madrid youth product can replicate such combative showings in English football should be eased by the wonderkid’s impressive and “athletic” (as per Cartlidge) 6-foot frame, along with his billing as “strong in the tackle” according to Clark.
The Spain U19 international may well still be somewhat inexperienced, but should the Magpies be able to land a deal for him, they could well have a ready-made Trippier successor on their hands, with Fresneda likely to be afforded plenty of time to learn from the experienced Englishman.
As Valladolid boss Jose Rojo Martin stated, for any possible suitor “you are not buying the current player, you are buying what he can become in a few years”, and it’s a hugely intriguing prospect to think of just much he can kick on in the coming years.
On the evidence of Fresneda’s early start to life at first-team level, it looks as if the Madrid native truly is a ‘special’ player in the making.
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