Sporting Lisbon centre-back Goncalo Inacio
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Newcastle look to beat rivals to Sporting centre-backs

Newcastle United are aiming to beat a host of Premier League clubs to the signing of Sporting Lisbon centre-backs Goncalo Inacio and Ousmane Diomande.

The Magpies are eyeing a double defensive raid on the Portuguese league leaders, as Eddie Howe looks to overhaul his backline after a disappointing Premier League campaign. Inacio and Diomande have each attracted interest from leading Premier League clubs, having emerged as two of the most exciting young defenders in European football in Lisbon.

 

Inacio has broken into the Portugal national team since progressing from the Sporting academy, impressing with his proactivity in possession.

The 22-year-old leads the Primeira Liga for passes into the final third this season and ranks second for touches and progressive carrying distance. His comfortability with the ball and natural left foot have made Inacio a top target for Europe’s elite, with Liverpool, Manchester United and Real Madrid all admirers.

Diomande also commands a long list of suitors. Signed from FC Midtjylland in January 2023, the Ivorian had turned the heads of Europe’s top clubs in a short period at Sporting.

The 20-year-old – who won the Africa Cup of Nations with Ivory Coast earlier this year – boasts the third-best pass completion in Portuguese football (91.4%) and has tackled the highest percentage of dribblers faced (82.4%) in the division this season.

Chelsea, Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester United have all sent scouts to watch the 6ft 3in centre-back this season, though Newcastle are hoping to win the race for both players.

Sven Botman’s ACL injury will sideline the Dutch defender for a significant period and additions at centre-back are the focus for the summer window.

 

Last season, Newcastle boasted the joint-best defensive record in the Premier League but have been unable to match that this time around. Their 48 goals conceded are the second-highest number in the top half, behind only West Ham, and 15 more than the club conceded in 2022/23, with 10 games still to play.

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