Newcastle United enjoyed yet another smooth transfer window under PIF in January, with the Magpies having again taken the wise approach not to splash the cash erratically, despite finding themselves in the mix for Champions League qualification.

Amid all the hope of short-term success, the Tynesiders do appear to have a firm focus on the long-term project that is underway under the new ownership. That desire to build for the future is evident with the signings of youthful duo Anthony Gordon and Harrison Ashby from Everton and West Ham United respectively, as well as teenage Australia international Garang Kuol.

However, the Magpies may be left to regret their failure to add to those new arrivals with further signings last month, having been unable to strike a deal late in the day for Flamengo starlet Matheus Franca.

The teenager was not the only Brazilian target that PIF and Eddie Howe appeared to have missed out upon, with the top-four hopefuls also seeing Vasco de Gama sensation Andrey Santos join Premier League rivals Chelsea.

Reports in December had suggested that the St James’ Park outfit were readying a move for the 18-year-old midfielder in the January transfer window, while The Athletic named the emerging wonderkid as one of the assets on whom Howe and co were keeping tabs.

While the Rio de Janeiro native is yet to feature for Chelsea following his £18m transfer, he does appear to be a talent who can blossom for Graham Potter’s side in the future, leaving those back on Tyneside to lick their wounds.

The 5 foot 11 playmaker is currently in “unstoppable” form for his country at youth level, according to Goal’s Tom Maston, having scored five goals and provided one assist in just six games in recent weeks in the U20 South American Championship.

The belief is that such standout showings may well ensure that the eye-catching youngster is able to obtain a work permit to feature in the Premier League, with it not beyond the realms of possibility that he takes to the field at Stamford Bridge before the end of the current campaign.

Such prolific form has followed Santos’ standout displays in his homeland prior to sealing the move to west London, as he racked up eight goals in 37 appearances for his former employers at senior level.

To make that sort of impact in the first team at such a young age is a testament to the midfield maestro’s quality, having also earned notable praise from compatriot Juninho Pernambucano.

The former Lyon dynamo stated last year: “Physically, he is a monster. Without the ball, his participation in the game is total. I wanted to see his GPS, because he doesn’t stop! And technically, he’s way above the others.

“He’s not going to be better than me, he’s going to be much better than me. He is a much more complete player. At 18, I didn’t play half as much as he does, I’m not ashamed to say that.”

Also tipped to be a “great player” by former team-mate Nene, it looks as if young Santos will go on to become a regular fixture at elite level for both club and country in the years to come, with Newcastle likely to be left to rue that transfer blunder.


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