Leganes playmaker Gabriel says Newcastle's rumoured January approach for him was true.
Leganes midfielder Gabriel has been quoted by Mundo Deportivo as saying that Newcastle United did attempt to sign him during the January transfer window.
Newcastle endured a difficult January transfer window, as whilst manager Rafael Benitez wanted to bring new faces to the club, the Magpies were ultimately unable to land any new signings.
A number of players were linked with moves to St. James' Park last month, and whilst fans were focusing on a possible return for Crystal Palace winger Andros Townsend, a playmaker also appeared to be on Benitez's wish list.
Sky Italia's Gianluca Di Marzio reported last month that Newcastle had made a move to try and sign Leganes playmaker Gabriel on loan with a view to a permanent deal, but no more was heard of the move.
The 23-year-old, formerly of Juventus, hit even goals last season to help Leganes win promotion to La Liga, and he has chipped in with two goals and one assist so far this term.
His displays seemingly caught the eye of Benitez, who will certainly have eyes on players in La Liga, and the Brazilian has now shed light on what exactly happened.
Newcastle United manager Rafa Benitez
As quoted by Mundo Deportivo, Gabriel admitted that the links to Newcastle were true, but he is now focused on Leganes and trying to help them avoid relegation from La Liga after the club decided he was going nowhere.
“Yes, I think it was true,” said Gabriel. “But it’s gone and now I think of here, where I am and where I am going to be. It was a club subject - I was training and it happened. The club decided it [that I would stay] and that was it,” he added.
A talented playmaker with great technical ability, Gabriel could be a smart addition for Newcastle even if they reach the Premier League, as he has the quality to feed a natural-born finisher like Dwight Gayle, meaning he should remain on the radar.
Ayoze Perez and Mohamed Diame have regularly featured in the attacking midfield role in Benitez's 4-2-3-1 system this season, but the January move for Gabriel suggests that Benitez still wants to upgrade the position – and if Newcastle win promotion, then they should be able to offer Leganes an enticing deal, rather than the loan-to-buy offer they seemingly made in January.
Would you like to see Newcastle try again for Gabriel?