By Matt Farr
Newcastle are eyeing a sensational move for FC Porto midfielder Hector Herrera in January.
The Chronicle, citing a report in the print version of Portugese publication A Bola, claim that manager Rafa Benitez wants to bring the Mexico international to Newcastle in the upcoming transfer window, as he prepares for the loss of some of his key men to the international stage.
Mo Diame, Achraf Lazaar and Christian Atsu are all due to depart for the Africa Cup of Nations in January, and will be unavailable to Benitez until February 5.
The Newcastle boss wants to continue his search for a creative midfielder, having opted against signing Blackburn’s Alan Judge in the summer.
Herrera, who has Champions League experience, will not come cheap though. A Bola suggest the 26-year-old has a release clause of £35 million.
The Mexican is one of Porto’s key midfielders, and the Portuguese outfit will be looking to keep hold of him as they seek to make an impact in this season’s Champions League. They are currently second in Group G with one game left to play.
From 17 games in all competitions, Herrera has contributed one goal and three assists.
Newcastle were blessed with a number of creative players last season, including Moussa Sissoko and Georginio Wijnaldum.
However, the pair quit the club following their relegation to the Championship, and Benitez has yet to really fill the void left by the duo in midfield.
Jonjo Shelvey is currently his main creative midfield outlet, with six assists and three goals from 23 games in all competitions this season. But Benitez wants to ease the burden off the shoulders of the former Swansea man, and bring in another similar talent.
Premier League giants Liverpool and Manchester United have also shown an interest in Herrera, and the Magpies will have a fight on their hands if they want to make Herrera part of their promotion bid.
Football Insider verdict:
Newcastle and Benitez are clearly seeking new additions to reinforce their promotion push for the second-half of the campaign, and a player of Herrera’s quality would help do just that. However, at £35 million it just doesn’t seem realistic. Even in today’s market, where transfer fees have become heavily inflated, it just doesn’t seem likely that Newcastle will be willing enough to part with such a sum on just one player. If they were in the Premier League, maybe; but it also seems doubtful that a current Champions League player would consider the Championship a good career move at this stage when there is also interest from Premier League clubs. Newcastle may be best positioned to return to the top-flight for next season, but it is no guarantee. If by some miracle Benitez’s side slip up between now and May, and they don’t manage to get out of the second-tier of English football, will it be worthwhile for Herrera to join Newcastle? They are still a very big club, with a major top-flight background, so it will be interesting to see if there is any truth behind the story.
In other Newcastle news, this Newcastle midfielder could be the man to solve West Ham’s defensive woes.