Tuesday, October 4, 2022

Newcastle United Facing Fierce Competition In Pursuit Of This Liga NOS Starlet: Right Fit For Bruce?

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Abhinab Ghosh
A 26-year-old sports writer and an aspiring football coach who has road-tripped across the Scottish Highlands, but has never been to Wales. Sucker for cliff-hangers and catchy riffs. Known to be a grunger and not to be a stranger.

In a recent print edition, The Sun (29/11, Page 65) has revealed that Newcastle United are facing fierce competition in pursuit of Sporting CP starlet Gonzalo Plata with the Portuguese club willing to sanction his loan departure in January with a view of sealing a permanent £20m transfer next summer (via The Chronicle). It is believed that the Magpies could have a battle on their hands with Leicester City, West Ham United and Brighton & Hove Albion also keeping tabs on the Ecuadorian winger.

Plata’s Impressive Rise In Portuguese Football

The 20-year-old came through the youth ranks of Independiente before joining Sporting last year. He broke out as a first-team starter for the Portuguese club in the previous campaign and has caught the eye by producing some dazzling displays at the José Alvalade Stadium.

Plata has made 29 senior appearances for Rúben Amorim’s side, finding the back of the net on three occasions while grabbing two assists in multiple competitions. However, the Ecuadorian international is yet to establish himself as a regular starter for Sporting this season as he has featured in just five matches, securing a total of 64 minutes of game time across all competitions.

The lack of playing minutes has somewhat hampered his growth, so it makes sense for him to go out on loan with the opportunity to impress and earn a permanent move in the future. At 20, Plata is only going to get better with each season which makes him a decent, long-term option for Newcastle to consider during the winter transfer window.

Newcastle United facing fierce competition in pursuit of Plata who is seen in the picture
Gonzalo Plata of Ecuador celebrates after scoring the fourth goal of his team during a match between Ecuador and Uruguay as part of South American Qualifiers for Qatar 2022 at Rodrigo Paz Delgado Stadium on October 13, 2020, in Quito, Ecuador. (Photo by Jose Jacome – Pool/Getty Images)

What Will The Ecuadorian Wide Player Bring To The Table?

Plata is blessed with electric pace and can be a decent dribbler with the ball out on the wide areas as he has got excellent balance, agility and close control to get past his marker in the final third. He can also generate a lot of curve with his deliveries from the flanks and is versatile enough to play anywhere across the frontline.

The eight-time Ecuador international is primarily a right-sided winger but can also feature on the left flank if needed. However, he is still quite inexperienced at the highest level, and the jury is still out on whether he can settle into Premier League football where he will be tested both physically and emotionally.

Is Plata The Right Fit For The Magpies?

Plata has a long way to go before he is ready to make his mark at the top level but has got the potential to become a household name in European football someday. The Magpies have currently got Miguel Almiron, Allan Saint-Maximin, Jeff Hendrick and Ryan Fraser fighting for a regular place on the wings in Steve Bruce’s starting XI.

Someone of Plata’s skill set and potential will only add more competition for them at St. James’ Park. Furthermore, his pace could make him an ideal option for Bruce to call upon from the bench in the second half of this campaign. All in all, the Ecuadorian prospect will be a decent fit for the Tyneside club but only if they land him on a six-month loan deal as it will allow them to see how he performs this season before deciding whether to sign him permanently next summer.

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