There has been an update regarding Newcastle United‘s interest in Sunderland wonderkid, Chris Rigg…
What’s the word?
According to transfer insider Graeme Bailey, the Magpies are believed to be hopeful that they can tie up a deal for the 15-year-old sensation, despite rampant interest from the club’s Premier League rivals.
Writing on Twitter about that developing story, the respected journalist stated: “Newcastle confident of winning race to sign Sunderland starlet Chris Rigg.”
In his attached piece for 90min, Bailey reports that the Tynesiders are in ‘pole postion’ for the teenager’s signature – ahead of the likes of Liverpool, Manchester City and Manchester United, among others – with the youngster and his family said to be Newcastle supporters.
This follows previous claims from back in September that suggested Eddie Howe and co were plotting a move to raid their bitter rivals, with any deal said to be worth roughly £2.5m.
The highly-sought midfielder has come to wider attention in the last 24 hours or so after making his first-team debut for the Black Cats in the FA Cup triumph over Shrewsbury Town, thus becoming the youngest-ever outfield player to feature for the club at senior level.
A player who has “huge potential” – according to journalist Pete O’Rourke – Rigg has enjoyed a rapid rise up the youth ranks in recent times, although it is still somewhat remarkable to see him already featuring in Tony Mowbray’s side at such a young age.
The experienced coach is clearly a keen admirer of the precocious talent, having notably lauded the playmaker’s “tenacious” displays in training with the first team, while also describing him as an “incredibly competitive animal” who possesses a “wonderful left foot”.
The arrival of such a talent could well prove a long-term replacement for current St James’ Park figure, Jonjo Shelvey, with the long-serving maestro facing an uncertain future at the club with just six months remaining on his existing deal.
The 30-year-old – who joined the Magpies back in 2016 – has racked up 202 appearances for the club to date, although it is unclear if he will be able to secure a contract extension, having been ruled out with injury in recent times.
Should he move on any time soon, Newcastle will not only be losing a fierce and “very aggressive” competitor – as described by former teammate Mikel Merino – but also a player who can help to dictate the tempo in the centre of the park, having been described as an “incredible technician” by his manager.
Filling that void with Rigg would seemingly be an ideal scenario for Newcastle, with the Stadium of Light starlet having also been praised for both his relentless work ethic and his quality in possession by Mowbray, who stated:
“He looks like a footballer who can play with the silkiness with his left foot, and play lovely passes, but he also looks like a tiger in that he wants to tackle everyone, and that’s not a bad mix for a midfielder.”
As such, if Howe is looking for an heir to Shelvey in his side, he could well find it in the form of the Sunderland prospect.