Date: 23rd January 2020 at 6:00pm
Written by: Tony O'Connell

Newcastle United lag behind Blackburn Rovers in a January race to sign Rio Ave’s Croatia U21 international Toni Borevkovic, according to A Bola.

The centre-half has emerged as a winter target for a number of English sides after excelling in the Liga NOS this season, with AFC Bournemouth also said to harbour an interest in adding the 22-year-old to Eddie Howe’s ranks on the south coast.

Several English clubs are said to have been closely following Borevkovic’s development at the Estadio dos Arcos under Carlos Carvalhal, with the former Swansea City head coach calling on the Dinamo Zagreb product to start 21 of his 22 appearances in all competitions thus far this term.

Borevkovic has only sat out one Portuguese top-flight fixture this season after being shown a straight red card on matchday three against Europa League Group Stage contestants Vitoria Guimaraes SC, and has helped to keep six clean sheets.

Blackburn Rovers are thought to be the leading rival bidder in the charge for Borevkovic’s signature this month after Rio Ave warmed to the potential of holding discussions, though the Vilacondenses would prefer to retain the defender’s services until at least the summer.

Rovers are positioned as the ‘most serious and sustained’ pursuer as Deadline Day nears, but prior reports in Portugal have also claimed that Bundesliga quartet Borussia Monchengladbach, VfL Wolfsburg, Augsburg and SC Freiburg scouted Borevkovic in action during Rio Ave’s 2-0 win over Boavista last Sunday.

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Newcastle stepping up our efforts to lure Borevkovic to the North East of England rather than Lancashire would see Managing Director Lee Charnley add a defender to Steve Bruce’s ranks who has won possession with 15 of his 21 tackles in the Liga NOS this season.

Borevkovic has also averaged 1.3 interceptions per 90 minutes in the Portuguese top-flight, along with 3.5 clearances, 0.9 blocks and wins 1.5 of his 2.3 aerial duels, per WhoScored data.

A Bola’s report does not suggest how much Rio Ave would demand for Borevkovic’s services, though the Estadio dos Arcos natives have the three-time former U21 international under contract until 2023 and TransferMarkt value the 6 ft 3 star at £1.35million.

In other Newcastle United news, the club have been linked with a 26-year-old goalscoring machine.

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