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Opinion

Hugo Ekitike transfer shambles crawls to predictable conclusion

1 month ago
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It was 1 June 2022 when the Reims FC President, Jean-Pierre Caillot, revealed to French media (see below) that the Ligue 1 club had accepted an offer for the then 19 year old striker Hugo Ekitike.

Now we have reached 12 July 2022 and Hugo Ekitike has in the meantime turned 20, whilst Newcastle United fans have aged what feels like many years, having had to endure daily / hourly ‘updates’ on the ‘progress’ of this transfer.

It is now six weeks ago since the French club’s President said that after accepting Newcastle’s offer, it was now (then) down to Hugo Ekitike and his agents to conclude the deal, if they wanted to…

You have to really question exactly why Jean-Pierre Caillot chose to make public this offer from Newcastle United. The fact that there wasn’t anything about this Hugo Ekitike revelation, to suggest exclusivity for NUFC, made me very much think that this wasn’t an announcement that the striker was going to end up at St James’ Park. Rather that the FC Reims President was simply trying to prompt other interested clubs to put in bids.

PSG have been credited with an interest in Hugo Ekitike for some time and now it appears to be coming to a conclusion.

Le Parisien is reporting that their information is that the now 20 year old striker has an ‘agreement in principle to join the club from the capital.

For Newcastle United fans, this Hugo Ekitike transfer shambles now crawls to a predictable conclusion.

We have been played by the French club.

You then had this nonsense from Reims FC Head Coach Oscar Garcia eleven days ago on 1 July 2022:

“He (Hugo Ekitike) told me he wanted to stay but if Real Madrid or Barcelona are coming…

“Hugo feels calm.

“I have spoken with him.

“He will have no problem staying at the club and neither will I!”

Is this the least professional club in France in terms of behaviour? What did this achieve? Amusingly he didn’t mention PSG as a supposed dream destination…as opposed to Newcastle United.

Back in January, Jean-Pierre Caillot also announced that FC Reims had accepted an offer from Newcastle United, only for them to then say Hugo Ekitike had turned the move down, indicating that it was too soon to consider a move, as he had only made 11 Ligue 1 starts so far and wanted to stay at Reims FC for the time being as he wanted to keep playing regular first team football.

Moving forward six months and Hugo Ekitike has now started 15 Ligue 1 matches so far in his career, having picked up an injury very soon after turning Newcastle United down (the first time…) and only managing four more league starts last season.

Whilst ever since the FC Reims President said Newcastle United had made an acceptable offer, there has been some crazy figures put forward in my opinion, especially considering how little he has done so far. Of course, with the media, the higher the figures the better in terms of claiming what NUFC (‘Richest club in the World’) have supposedly offered.

However, one or two journalists have claimed that the massive transfer fee figures that have been popularly quoted again and again, may be very misleading. With actually Newcastle United offering a relatively small transfer fee (especially compared to the headlines in the media generally) and the vast majority of any overall deal, dependent on Hugo Ekitike hitting certain targets in the years ahead.

Whilst everybody at FC Reims (certainly the President and Head Coach) appear to have been happy to hang the striker out to dry and put all the media spotlight on him being the sticking point in any deal. I do wonder if FC Reims themselves have been the ones holding out for a deal that would see them receive far more guaranteed cash, rather than possible add-ons that may never happen?

As for Hugo Ekitike himself, Newcastle’s plan appeared to be for him to come in as part of the first team squad but only over a period of time hopefully end up as a first choice regular. Whereas if indeed Hugo Ekitike did end up signing for PSG, I wouldn’t be surprised if it was a deal that included him loaned back for the coming season so he could get regular first team football and add to that meagre total of Ligue 1 matches played so far. Newcastle United at this moment in time not in a position to do that, because as well as wanting to bring in young players with potential such as Hugo Ekitike, he would also have been needed as a squad striker this coming season.

Whatever the truth in all of this, I don’t think Newcastle United could have handled it any better, it is FC Reims who all along have made this a very public farce and in the end, I don’t think many NUFC fans will now be too unhappy if he does indeed sign for PSG.—

Jean-Pierre Caillot speaking to FranceBleu.fr – Published 2 June 2022:

“Let’s talk about the Hugo Ekitike file, we read and hear a lot. Just one question: do you have, as we speak (Editor’s note: the interview was carried out on Wednesday June 1), one or more concrete and written offers for the player?”

“Yes. Today, it is very concrete.

“And on the table there is one that suits us very well.

“An offer which, in my view, is sportingly interesting for the player and it is now up to him to make his choice, it is not for me to do so.

“From now on, it is his advisers who must move forward on this file.

“And if at the time of speaking this is not done, it is because his advisers have not yet wished to move forward with this club.”

“What club is it?”

“We remain discreet but hey… it’s an English club so we understand which club we’re talking about… (smiles).”

“Quite frankly, did you expect to see Hugo Ekitike reach this level very quickly and emerge so quickly in Ligue 1?”

“It’s been years since (Reims Sporting Director) Mathieu Lacour told me that we had a nugget in store.

“Where I was surprised, like all supporters, was how quickly he emerged.

“So it’s true, he was helped by the context because in fact he was 4th striker in the hierarchy and then the injury game also meant that he was able to show all his qualities.

“It also makes me smile today, because it sometimes seems that it would be the end of the Stade de Reims if he (Hugo Ekitike) were to leave us when a year ago, 90% of the people (supporters) did not know him.”

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