Benik Afobe: Five things Newcastle fans should know about reported target

The Arsenal academy product, who is now impressing with Wolves in the Championship, is reported to be on Steve McClaren's radar.

Newcastle United's search for goalscoring reinforcements could see the Magpies turn to highly-rated Wolverhampton Wanderers striker Benik Afobe this January, as reported by the Metro – but what do Toon fans need to know about the former Arsenal academy star?

On the books at the Emirates for some 14 years, the 22-year-old attacker has scored 19 goals in 33 appearances for Wolves to date and famously bagged a brace for MK Dons, while on loan, during a 4-0 win over Manchester United in the League Cup last season.

But that's only the half of it – here are five things the Toon Army might be interested to know.

1. He's equalled one of Michael Owen's England records

Afobe has played for England at four different levels of youth football, with his first notable highlight coming with the under-16 side.

Part of the squad competing for the annual Victory Shield, alongside Ross Barkley, Connor Wickham and Ravel Morrison, Afobe scored in all three games against Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland respectively.

His final tally of four goals in three games equalled the previous record set by Michael Owen in the same tournament several years previous.

2. Former Newcastle star Lee Clark thinks highly of him

A Geordie through and through, with over 200 appearances for Newcastle to his name, Lee Clark has spoken in glowing terms of Afobe, having managed the one-time Arsenal prospect during his stint in charge of Huddersfield.

Speaking to the Huddersfield Examiner just after the youngster arrived of his first impressions, Clark said "He showed some lovely touches and that he has a good footballing brain, and also that he can handle the physical side."

"It looks like Arsenal have produced another gem,” he added, later telling the same publication that “There’s no doubt in my mind that Benik is a special talent."

3. Barcelona were once linked with a move for the striker

Back in 2009, when Afobe was impressing within the youth ranks at Arsenal, the Daily Mail claimed that the striker was the subject of interest from Barcelona.

According to their report, the Catalan club were willing to offer the youngster a deal worth £5,500-a-week, with the plan being for Afobe to work under Luis Enrique who was, at the time, the manager of Barca's reserve team.

Unfortunately, these reports came to nothing.

4. He's played alongside some of England's brightest young stars

The 2010 Under-17 European Championships represent a rarely celebrated high point for England in recent years, with Afobe playing a major part in proceedings.

Part of a squad that featured forgotten youth stars like Will Keane of Manchester United and Josh McEachran of Chelsea, alongside Everton duo Ross Barkley and John Stones, Afobe even got on the scoresheet in a 3-1 win over Czech Republic.

England would go on to win the tournament with a 2-1 victory over Spain in the final, having already beaten a France team led by Paul Pogba in the semis.

5. He's had his injury problems

Despite his tender age, Afobe has already had to face several concerning injuries in his career, starting with groin problems in his early days in the game.

The biggest setback, however, came in March 2013, when an anterior cruciate ligament injury left the 22-year-old sidelined for some eight months and requiring surgery.

Though Afobe has since recovered, the serious nature of the injury could be food for thought to Newcastle ahead of a potential big-money bid.

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