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Arsenal's loss is Newcastle's gain: Bruno Guimaraes the statement signing Magpies were seeking

6:18 PM GMT+8 28/01/2022
Bruno Guimaraes Lyon 2021-22
The Brazil midfielder has long been courted by Europe's top clubs and the 24-year-old has the talent and the temperament to excel in English football

Newcastle are set to truly showcase their status as "the richest club in the world" when they sign Bruno Guimaraes from Lyon.

The St James’ Park club are ready to pay up to £43 million ($57.5m) for the Brazil international, with £35m ($47m) of that an up-front fee and the remainder in potential bonuses.

Having been mocked for their amateurish attempts to sign Hugo Ekitike for Reims by including what the French club branded “unrealistic” bonus clauses in the deal, Newcastle are set to add a Ligue 1 player to their ranks that will genuinely have clubs envious.

After all, Guimaraes is a player who has attracted the attention of both Arsenal and Juventus in recent weeks – two clubs who have long been recognised as heavyweights in the European game.

Gunners boss Mikel Arteta even admitted that he wanted to sign an additional central midfielder this January. It appears that one he really wanted is heading to the north east.

And though Guimaraes may not be a name recognised in England, the 24-year-old is a player worthy of a club with Champions League ambitions.

“It’s normal that clubs are interested in you when you are an Olympic champion, called up to the full national side and you are playing well,” he told Globo Esporte earlier in January.

Such high-profile interest is nothing new.

Atletico Madrid were desperate to sign him in January 2020, but instead he moved to Lyon, where the influence of Juninho as sporting director proved critical.

It has proven to be a profitable move for both the player and the club, with OL set to more than double the fee they paid for him only two years ago.

Of course, life was complicated in Lyon for the Brazilian initially, with the early stages of the Covid-19 pandemic hampering his integration into the squad.

This did not stop him impressing against Juventus as Lyon progressed all the way to the Champions League semi-finals in August.

He has since earned a reputation as a player who can struggle on the big occasion, though a recent blockbuster performance against Paris Saint-Germain in a 1-1 draw should have allayed some of those fears and is doubtless one of the reasons that Newcastle have moved for him.

Although branded a box-to-box midfielder, Bruno is a player who does much of his work defensively.

He is certainly classy with the ball at his feet and possesses impressive vision, but his return of three goals in 71 Lyon appearances gives an accurate picture of just how often he finds himself around the opponents’ penalty area.

Nevertheless, he has hinted that he could show more in his game if given the freedom.

“In France, there are times when we play like robots,” he told Globo this week. “Nobody tries to dribble, to find a pass, for example. It irritates me sometimes.”

Playing with Allan Saint-Maximin, then, should be right up his street.

Meanwhile, he rates well compared to his Ligue 1 peers in all aspects of his defensive game, justifying his reputation as a ball winner.

Mentally, too, Guimaraes is a player who demands the most from those around him – seemingly ideal for Newcastle in their present situation.

“We always say that we’re not in the right league position, but we’ve not done much else to show that,” he said following a 1-1 draw with relegation-threatened Metz in December that left Lyon in the lower half of the Ligue 1 table over the winter break.

“It disgusts me, it hurts me. I’m going to have a bad Christmas because of this.”

With Juninho, his great mentor, departing the club after a failed stint as sporting director, this proved to be the beginning of the end for Bruno in France.

While the fan of Andres Iniesta, Xavi and Toni Kroos had hinted that he might like a move to Spain, it is the Premier League that has opened its doors for him as he continues to steady march to the top of the game.

Now, he promises to be Newcastle’s first big statement signing of the Saudi era and he is a player who can underpin the success of the club for years to come.