Newcastle United have scouted Royal Antwerp’s Aurelio Buta, according to the Sunday Mirror as cited by the Express.
Buta has been thriving in the Belgian top-flight this season in a marauding full-back role, where his efforts have returned three assists and one goal in 13 games having started each of his 13 Jupiler Pro League outings thus far.
He also featured for 283 minutes in Antwerp’s Europa League qualifying fixtures this season, but was unable to help Laszlo Boloni’s side overcome AZ Alkmaar to book a place in the Group Stage.
But the 22-year-old’s efforts have attracted interest from the Premier League, as scouts from Newcastle and Wolverhampton Wanderers are said to have observed the Portuguese youngster in action of late.
Wolves are keen to strengthen their defensive options in the January window as competing in the Europa League has pushed Nuno Espirito Santo’s squad to their limits, and look set to progress into the next round.
Boss Espirito Santo has informed the board at Molineux that he would like Buta signed in January to bolster his defensive ranks, and his green light has sparked the Black County side to begin closing in on a deal.
It is expected that Wolves will target a loan move for Buta in January that carries an option to become permanent in the summer, and hope that their relationship with super-agent Jorge Mendes will help to wrap up his transfer.
Wolves and Watford have been credited with an interest in Buta in the past by the Daily Mail, who suggested Antwerp are reluctant to sell mid-season but the Premier League sides believe they could be tempted by an offer of £5million.
Buta has impressed their scouts through his pace down the right-hand side, as he advances into attacking positions and often creates chances to score through his crosses.
At present, we do not necessarily need another option at right-back with DeAndre Yedlin, Javier Manquillo and Emil Krafth at St. James’ Park, though Manquillo’s future is up for debate with reports that the Spaniard may be sold in January.
Should Newcastle sign Buta?
No, we have Yedlin
Give Manquillo more minutes
Give Krafth more minutes
Buta may, therefore, be the club’s alternative to Manquillo, as they look to part ways with the £35,000-per-week full-back without depriving Steve Bruce of the depth he currently has in defence.
Manquillo has made five appearances across all competitions this season, starting twice, but has not featured since September and is out of contract next summer.