By Matt Bullin
Newcastle manager Rafael Benitez is eyeing a summer swoop for CD Leganés attacking midfielder Gabriel Pires, according to a report.
The Mirror claims the newly-promoted club are interested in signing the 23-year-old ace this summer as they look to bolster their squad ahead of a return to the Premier League.
It is said that Gabriel, a former Juventus youngster, has a £6million release clause in his contract and fits the age-range of players which Mike Ashley wants to sign.
Benitez is using his own contacts in Spain to scout the player, and the Mirror report he also “has the backing” of Newcastle’s head scout Graeme Carr.
However the Toon will face opposition from the likes of West Ham and Everton, who are also interested in the Brazilian play maker, according to the report.
Gabriel has scored five goals and provided two assists in his 34 La Liga appearances this term, and he has two years left on his contract at Leganes.
Football Insider verdict
Benitez will no doubt be using his contacts in Spain to scout the play maker ahead of the summer window. The Magpies will need to strengthen their squad for their return to the Premier League and the addition of Gabriel could do just that. He has bundles of technical ability, having played his youth football at Juventus, but it is difficult to say whether he will be able to adapt to the pace of the English game. His price tag is a positive, given he is available on the cheap, but his goal and assist return are hardly impressive.
In other Newcastle news, Ian Rush has revealed what the Toon need to avoid relegation next season.