Newcastle United’s best player this season couldn’t be more obvious and will impact Magpies’ transfer plans

Newcastle United have enjoyed a stellar season and sit on the brink of the Champions League - but one star provides them with some transfer issues this summer.

The Gallowgate roar rose to a mighty crescendo that reverberated around all four corners of St James’ Park as Newcastle United’s latest leap towards European football’s elite was taken.

With celebrations from Callum Wilson scoring their third goal of the night barely complete, the Magpies poured down the famous slope as the England striker raced in behind the Brighton and Hove Albion defence to meet a perfectly weighted pass from Alexander Isak. A quick recovery from Seagulls defender Lewis Dunk brought a temporary pause in forward motion and vocal support as Wilson halted his charge towards goal, before keeping his composure to roll a pass to team-mate Bruno Guimaraes. Although looking off-balance and surrounded by a number of visitors defenders, the influential midfielder arched his body and expertly dispatched the ball into the roof of the net to seal all three points for Eddie Howe’s men.

What followed will go down in Magpies folklore, as the Brazilian international stood atop an advertising hoarding and unleashed a guttural roar that was only drowned out by the thunderous ovation that rolled down from the stands. Quickly joined by his team-mates, embracing this latest group of black and white heroes, Bruno quickly showed an ‘A’ sign with his fingers as a mark of respect for Arthur Salters-Hoult, a young Newcastle fan diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia early this year.

With chaos still enveloping the celebrations, the former Lyon star then turned his attentions towards his family high up in the stands, making heart gestures towards his wife and young son, before producing a smile as wide as the Tyne Bridge itself as he pointed at the Newcastle United badge sat on his chest.

One more win, just one win in a season of progress and success, will see the Magpies and their star midfielder return to European football’s elite competition. Not since the days of Sir Bobby Robson, Alan Shearer and Laurent Robert have the continent’s powerhouses visited Tyneside - but that could all change come Monday night where the defeat of Leicester City would set in stone the Magpies’ top four place.

With one giant leap into an exciting future lying in wait, it’s easy to forget just how close United were to the precipice just 16 months ago, when they secured the highly ambitious and some may say unexpected move to lure Guimaraes away from Lyon and hand him an opportunity to shine in the Premier League. Such is the impact the Brazil star has made since moving to Tyneside, it’s hard to believe this is still his first full season in England. His ability to adapt, to cope with the physical, unrelenting nature of the Premier League, and a willingness to embrace Newcastle as a football club and a city, have already placed him firmly in the hearts of the St James’ Park faithful.

There is a two-way trust between Guimaraes and his team-mates. Even in his very temporary dips in form, he has brought out of the best in them and, in turn, they are helping him realise his potential in one of European football’s most competitive leagues.

You only have to witness the improvement he has brought out of midfield partners Joelinton, Joe Willock and Sean Longstaff to realise the integral role Guimaraes holds within Howe’s squad - but it would be sensible to note the trio have all played a part in allowing the 25-year-old become so influential. Yet his versatility and adaptability also provide the Magpies hierarchy with something of a conundrum as they prepare for what will be an exciting summer transfer window ahead of a return to European football.

Used largely as a holding midfielder, providing a solid base and sensible ball retention, Guimaraes has shone in a deeper role that some would say have limited the impact his unquestionable potential could have higher up the pitch. The question that requires an answer, given United are believed to be targeting a midfielder to boost their ranks in the middle of the pitch, is far from complex and could prove key to their future ambitions.

Do they free Guimaraes of his more disciplined role in front of what has been a mostly rock solid back-four and bring in a holding midfielder in the mould of reported targets Ajax’s Edson Alvarez or Nice’s highly-rated star Khephren Thuram? Or do they persist with Guimaraes in the role he has embraced and seek creativity from elsewhere by pursuing deals for the likes of Leicester City star James Maddison and RB Leipzig’s Dominik Szoboszlai?

Adding one or two of those possibles to their ranks would leave further quandaries for Howe, as he juggles the need to continue building on the undoubted momentum and progression during his St James’ Park reign along with what will be an increasingly hectic schedule - with dazzling ventures to the continent sitting alongside domestic affairs.

The impact made by Guimaraes has been as significant as the transformative role Kieran Trippier has played in raising standards on and off the pitch at Newcastle - and helping the Brazilian playmaker fully realise his potential by adding further talent around him will see the scenes witnessed on Thursday night become a more regular occurrence.

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