Newcastle target Ekitike subject of 'very concrete' offer from English club
Hugo Ekitike appears to be nearing a move to Newcastle after Reims president Jean-Pierre Caillot confirmed the club had received a "very concrete" offer from an English club.
Ekitike was one of the breakout stars of the 2021-22 season across Europe's top five leagues.
The 19-year-old scored 10 goals and assisted three more in Ligue 1, contributing a goal involvement every 98 minutes on average.
Attempting only 31 shots, Ekitike's conversion rate of 32.3 per cent was the second-best among players with 20 or more attempts across Europe, far outperforming his expected goals total of 7.0.
This sensational form has attracted attention from a host of clubs, with Paris Saint-Germain and Borussia Dortmund both linked.
But big-spending Newcastle have long been seen as Ekitike's most likely destination, with the player even turning down a move to Tyneside in January.
Reports this week have suggested the forward is now more open to a move with a fee almost agreed; a figure in the region of £30million has been mooted in France.
And Caillot hinted at an agreement in an interview with France Bleu, explaining a deal could only be held up by Ekitike again rejecting an unnamed club's advances.
"[The offer] is very concrete," the Reims chief said. "And on the table, there is one that suits us very well.
"[It is] an offer that, in my opinion, is interesting sportingly for the player, and it is now up to him to make his choice; it is not up to me to do it.
"From now on, it is his advisers who must make progress on this issue. And if at the time of speaking it is not done, it is because his advisors have not yet wished to move forward with this club."
Pressed on the identity of the club, with an apparent reference to Newcastle, Caillot added: "We remain discreet but good. It is an English club, so we understood which club we are talking about."
English reports have been less firm on the price Newcastle would pay, but Caillot said: "Let it be clear: for €20m, Hugo Ekitike will not leave."
Reims are set to receive a significant fee for a player who had not started a single Ligue 1 match just a year ago, with the president confident they will cope with his departure.
"[Reims general director] Mathieu Lacour has been telling me for years that we had a nugget in reserve," Caillot said. "Where I was surprised, like all the fans, was the speed with which he stood out.
"It's true, he was helped by the context, because in fact he was the fourth striker in the hierarchy and then injuries made him able to show all his qualities.
"It also makes me smile today, because we sometimes have the impression that it would be the end of Stade de Reims if he were to leave us, when a year ago there were 90 per cent of people who did not know him."