Why Newcastle United should reignite interest in Ricardo Horta in January
Just before the summer deadline, a report from Portuguese publication O Jogo (h/t Chronicle Live) had claimed that Newcastle United were chasing Braga winger Ricardo Horta. However, a move to Tyneside never quite materialised for the 26-year-old, with the Magpies eventually turning their attention to other targets.
Ricardo Horta spent seven years in the youth ranks of Benfica and completed his development at Vitoria Setubal, where he had his first taste of senior football. Having made his first-team breakthrough in 2012-13, the right-footed ace bagged 7 goals in 28 Primeira Liga appearances in the following campaign before completing a move to Spanish outfit Malaga.
The 26-year-old, though, failed to make much of an impression in Spain, scoring just thrice in 56 appearances over the course of two seasons. Horta then returned to his homeland on loan with Braga in the summer of 2016 and eventually completed a permanent move in the following summer.
Horta has since established himself as one of the best wingers in the Portuguese top-flight, registering an impressive 56 goals and 31 assists in 187 appearances across all competitions. The versatile attacker represented Portugal at U-19, U-20, U-21, and U-23 levels before making his senior international debut back in 2014.
Horta would add more depth to Newcastle’s attack
Newcastle desperately need to bolster their attack in the summer after scoring just 38 goals in the Premier League last season and the Magpies responded by adding the likes of Ryan Fraser and Callum Wilson to their ranks before the October deadline.
Fraser and Wilson have certainly had a positive impact on Newcastle’s dynamics in the final third while Allan Saint-Maximin has also caught the eye with a string of top-notch displays early in the ongoing campaign.
Indeed, it can’t be denied that Newcastle have looked a much better attacking side this season, but there is certainly enough room to add more depth to the creative department. Steve Bruce has preferred to use Jeff Hendrick in a wide role and while the former Burnley man has made a good start to his career at Tyneside, his best qualities are utilised in central midfield.
Miguel Almiron seems to have lost his status as an undisputed starter this season but it’s still too early in the season to pass a definitive judgement on what the future holds for the Paraguayan. However, he hasn’t offered enough in terms of end product in the final third and that is something he will surely need to work on.
Jacob Murphy failed to secure a move away from St. James’ Park before the deadline but his future at Newcastle remains unclear given that he hasn’t always been a part of the first-team mix. Matt Ritchie is another specialist wide option in the squad but Newcastle ideally need some younger alternatives, with the Scotsman already 31 and struggling with injuries.
To put things into perspective, Newcastle should make a renewed attempt to sign Ricardo Horta when the transfer window reopens in January. Essentially a left-winger by trade, the Portuguese is also capable of playing on the other flank and also as a centre-forward. Hence, a potential deal for the Braga star would offer Bruce with some valuable depth and cover in multiple areas.
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Ricardo Horta boasts of an impressive track record of goals and assists for Braga in Portugal, having also caught the eye in the Europa League on several occasions. He looks more than capable of making the step up to the Premier League and still has several years remaining in his prime at 26.
The Portuguese star would reduce the dependence on the likes of Saint-Maximin and Fraser to a large extent and Newcastle reigniting interest in Horta could pay off handsomely for their long-term plans moving forward.