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Newcastle United are keen on signing Empoli striker Arnel Jakupovic in the summer, just a few months after he was sold by Middlesbrough, according to reports from the Daily Star.
The Magpies, who sealed their promotion to the Premier League and topped it with the EFL Championship title following their 3-0 win over Barnsley, have begun planning for life in the English top division. And they have identified the 18-year old Jakupovic as one of their targets, keeping in mind the long-term future.
The Austrian youth international joined Empoli only in January from the Magpies’ local rivals Middlesbrough, but now looks like a return to the North-East of England is on the horizon for the youngster.
So, who exactly is Arnel Jakupovic? Should Newcastle be making a move or should they learn from their rivals and stay away? Let’s take a look:
Born in Austria, Jakupovic joined up with the academy of Austria Wien and progressed through the ranks, impressing with plenty of goals for the U-16 and the U-18 sides, before breaking into the second team of the club. Soon after, Jakupovic was spotted by Boro scout Gary Gill, after finishing as top scorer in his country’s Under-18 Youth League with 21 goals in 20 matches and he was snapped up by Middlesbrough in the summer of 2015.
The 18-year old hit the ground running and enjoyed a great breakthrough season with the Middlesbrough youth side as he bagged an impressive 20 goals in 20 games matches for Paul Jenkins’ youth team in a division where players three years older to him were playing.
However, an injury sustained at the end of last season meant he missed a good chunk of games at the start of the ongoing campaign for the U-23s. He had managed a goal and an assist from 9 games when Empoli came calling and he jumped ship to the Italian outfit. Since joining them, the 18-year old has managed 8 goals from 13 games for the U-23 side in all competitions. He has also made one appearance for the senior team in the Serie A.
Jakupovic has represented the Austrian national teams at all the youth levels and has been impressive in all of them. He has made 19 appearances for the U-19 side, scoring 12 goals and made his debut for the U-21 side last year, where he managed a goal.
A burly forward, with great ability to hold up the ball and bring his teammates into play, Jakupovic is a player with great work ethic and is someone who works very hard for the team on the pitch. He has a mean right foot, with which he can hit some exquisite free-kicks as well. A good finisher at such a young age, Jakupovic has shown great instincts for goals and has all the abilities to become a very good No.9.
Throughout his youth career, Jakupovic has managed to impress heavily and has scored goals at a prolific rate. A short injury layoff at the start of the season did not allow him to flourish greatly with Boro, but since moving to Empoli, he has found his goal-scoring touch and recently broke into the first team as well.
Judging by the potential that he has shown, it looks like Middlesbrough have lost a great talent from their hands and Newcastle could be set to gain a lot from their local rivals’ mistake. If Newcastle can snap him up, he would be a great signing.