While the rumour mill continues to intensify around Harvey Barnes here in the UK, Federico Chiesa has been rather quietly emerging as a potential realistic target for Eddie Howe's Newcastle United on the continent. Now, just imagine us writing that sentence with a straight face after Chiesa's performance for Italy in Euro 2020...
A lot has changed since then, of course. The 25-year-old winger has been on a downward trajectory, largely due to a severe ACL injury he suffered in January 2022, while we find ourselves under new ownership and in the Champions League proper for the first time in 20 years.
Chiesa was on the sidelines for 10 months because of that injury, only returning to action in November 2022 and failing to recapture his best form in the remainder of the 2022/23 campaign. Indeed, the son of Enrico Chiesa (a former teammate of Faustino Asprilla at Parma) only managed 33 appearances totalling 1,483 minutes in all of last season, roughly 16.5 full matches.
He featured on the left-wing 11 times, as a secondary striker 10 times, on the right-wing on four occasions, and as a striker on three occasions, demonstrating his positional versatility. Despite limited involvement, the season still brought with it four goals and six assists. To add some context here, Jacob Murphy played 1,459 minutes for Newcastle in 2022/23, also scoring four times but providing just two assists. Allan Saint-Maximin played 1,374 minutes, scoring just once and assisting teammates five times.
Over his career, Chiesa has predominantly played on the right, scoring 32 times and providing 13 assists in 92 appearances, giving him a goal involvement of 0.49 per 90 when in that position. He hasn't been as potent when deployed on the left, scoring just 11 times but still providing 13 assists in 56 showings, for a goal involvement of 0.43 per 90. He also has 42 caps for Italy, scoring five goals, and was named in the UEFA Euro 2020 "Team of the Tournament" after helping his country lift the trophy at Wembley.
While there are concerns about Chiesa being able to recapture his best following his ACL injury, he was so electric prior to it that even if he can get 90% back to what he was he might still be worth the risk. Here's a reminder of what he is capable of:
First speculatively linked to NUFC by The Sun in the days immediately after the takeover in October 2021, things unsurprisingly went quiet throughout the period Chiesa spent on the sidelines. There wasn't a sniff of a link to the winger throughout the January 2023 transfer window, but things have begun to pick up a little bit of steam in recent times.
Sandro Tonali's stunning £52 million move to Newcastle seems to have alerted people to the fact that we are now capable of taking the best players from the biggest clubs in Serie A, and for the past two weeks the rumours around Chiesa following his compatriot to St. James' Park have intensified.
There have been stories about NUFC's interest in a number of major outlets, including The Mail, along with reports from Italy about Chiesa's poor relationship with Juventus manager Massimiliano Allegri and the fact he may now be seen as "expendable" by the Old Lady.
Twitter is where the real action has been happening, though, with "Pietro Snicks", who broke the Tonali to Newcastle news from the continent back on the 15th of June, having previously claimed on the 10th of June that Chiesa was NUFC's "number one target".
Snicks followed this up 12 days later in a quote Tweet, asserting that the deal was in its opening stage, and then again on the 2nd of July when discussing Chiesa's potential replacements at Juventus (Timothy Weah has now officially signed for them):
There hasn't been much since then, though Snicks did reply to James Scott, a very eager Newcastle fan, on the 5th with the following:
It seems things haven't moved along too much since mid-June, but the mainstream media is now starting to get on board with Newcastle being interested in the Juventus and Italy star. He would appear to fit the bill for what we need out wide, and if (a big if) his agent was being honest when he released the below statement to Calciomercato in June, he should fit into our wage structure:
"In response to the rumours surfacing in recent days about Federico Chiesa's future, Fali Ramadani, the player's agent, denies the stories about a request for eight million euros made by the player to renew his contract with Juventus FC."
Even if Chiesa is asking for around €8 million per season (£6.83 million), this works out at around £130,000 per week, which would put him in line with the club's current top earners. That same report from Calciomercato said Juventus would be looking for a transfer fee of around €60 million (£51 million) for Chiesa, roughly the same as what Tonali cost us before add-ons.
So the player seems to have the profile we're looking for, the total package cost would be similar to the deal we've just done for his Italian international teammate, and it Juventus have already made a move to effectively replace Chiesa in their squad with Weah, with Berardi also potentially lined up. The pieces all seem to be in place, with the only unknown being whether he would actually want to sign for us.
If he does, we're sure he'd be an immense addition to Eddie Howe's squad, even if he's never quite the player he was before he ruptured his ACL. We should mention that he already speaks immaculate English as well...