According to various reports this week, Anderlecht striker Aleksandar Mitrovic is Newcastle United’s number one transfer target in the winter transfer window, and there are good reasons for that.
Aged 20, the Serbia international has established himself as one of the brightest prospects in European football since joining Anderlecht from Partizan in August 2013 for €5 million, scoring 16 times in 32 league games during his first season in Belgium.
His form has carried over into this term, too, with 11 goals in 20 total appearances so far, including a dramatic late equaliser at Arsenal in the Champions League to claw back a 3-0 deficit.
It’s no surprise, therefore, that a host of top teams are said to be pursuing the 6ft 2in front man, given his undoubted promise, with the likes of AC Milan, Chelsea, Liverpool and now Newcastle all named as potential suitors over recent months.
With a reported asking price of around £10 million, it seems inevitable that Mitrovic will be heading off for pastures new in the near future, but it should also be stressed that is far from the finished article at this point, despite his prolific scoring rate in the Jupiler Pro League.
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As his European displays against both Borussia Dortmund and Galatasaray this season have shown, Mitrovic can go missing if things aren’t clicking for him but, given his tender age, that’s perhaps forgivable.
Having favourably been dubbed ‘the new Zlatan Ibrahimovic’, his strength and hold-up play are perhaps his two standout attributes – those which don’t appears in the stats columns - but it’s also clear that he lacks the same creative instincts as the Swedish superstar.
Ultimately, Mitrovic would prove an excellent project for a Premier League team to try to mould, but it would be foolish to expect him to arrive in England and start dominating opposition centre-backs from the word go.
If Newcastle want more of an immediate goal threat then Marseille poacher Andre-Pierre Gignac, who is also among their reported targets, would be the better option, but the club’s recruitment policy in recent seasons under Alan Pardew suggests the 28-year-old might be outside their age bracket.