The free-scoring forward who's attracting interest from both Arsenal and Newcastle

Arsenal and Newcastle have been linked with a bid for a striker who's scoring plenty of goals in Portugal - but is he good enough for the Premier League?
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Here’s one thing we know for sure about the summer transfer window, which opens in under two months’ time – practically every top team in the Premier League is after a striker. And the other thing we know is that the big-ticket number nines, the Toneys and Osimhens and their ilk, will cost the clubs they sign them a small fortune.

So it’s interesting to see a report that both Arsenal and Newcastle United, two teams firmly in the hunt for a centre-forward, have strayed from the beaten track a little with their scouting. According to HITC, both clubs have had representatives in Portugal casting an eye over Porto’s 24-year-old Brazilian striker Evanilson – and they may very well like what they see.

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The Under-23 international – he hasn’t made it to the national side just yet, although his club manager Sérgio Conceição has been understandably keen to talk up his chances – has picked up 21 goals in all competitions already this season, including four in the Champions League, and shown off some serious skill in front of goal in the process. Given the likelihood that some of the bigger names in the shop window will go for top dollar this summer, Evanilson looks like a very appealing budget-friendly alternative.

Well... budget-friendly may be a stretch, but as the numbers thrown around for some of Europe’s in-demand superstars spiral up towards nine figures, at least Evanilson will be a little cheaper than that. HITC’s article doesn’t mention a price point, but the reported £86m release clause is the upper limit and it’s likely he would come in a bit cheaper than that.

The question, of course, is whether he would be worth the money, however steep the price tag – and his consistency, touch and finishing all suggest that he may well be.

This is Evanilson’s fourth season with Porto and the second in which he has passed 20 goals. A slight lull last season saw him notch up just ten in 41 games, but he’s been at his very best this time around and is going at a rate of better than two goals every three games. Both Arsenal and Newcastle would benefit from someone who strikes with that kind of frequency.

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“Evanilson is an extremely dedicated player, very humble, works a lot, in connection he is very strong, because he has above average technical attributes,” his manager Conceição told the media. "He's fast, plays well with his back to goal, makes very interesting attacking moves from deep. Evanilson is that striker that every coach wants to have.”

That’s a pretty accurate summary, although to a more neutral eye his pace doesn’t seem to be as extreme as Conceição suggests. But he certainly has the rest – a sublime first touch which allows him to take the ball away from defenders and create space, the ability to beat his man with a flick or a trick, good passing and hold-up play and excellent late movement.

His goals range from extravagant drives to tap-ins created by a quick burst into the six-yard box, and from inch-perfect finishes across the goalkeeper to instinctive close-range strikes. Mix in some nice approach play and build-up work and a positional sense which operates just as well in the area as it does down the channels and dropping deep and you have something approaching a complete striker.

Of course, there are some gaps. His first touch is fantastic and he’s comfortable running the channels, but he isn’t a world-class ball-carrier and doesn’t break the lines himself with the same ease with which he finishes off chances made by others. And while he’s by no means small – he stands 6’0” or thereabouts - he’s not particularly impactful in the air and doesn’t offer a more direct kind of threat.

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But he makes up for his deficiencies by being tenacious, hard-working and effective in the press, winning the ball high up the field with a degree of regularity, and he’s always willing to put the hard yards in for the cause.

That makes him a pretty natural fit for Newcastle, who would value his ability to press hard, his movement off the ball which would offer their quick, vertical style of play a good target, and of course his goals. And his profile might well suit Mikel Arteta, too – he offers some of the channel-plying qualities that Gabriel Jesus does but perhaps with more accurate and reliable finishing. Arsenal have had the chance to see him up close, as well, as he was in the starting line-up for both legs of their match in the last 16 of the Champions League.

Needless to say, the real question is whether the price difference between some like Evanilson and, say, a Viktor Gyökeres is enough to make Evanilson the more appealing target. He has begun to prove himself at the very top level, in Europe and in Portugal, however, and to the untrained eye he looks more than good enough to compete in the Premier League. He's certainly had plenty of opportunities to bust out his tradenmark finger-guns celebration. If the fee doesn’t get too outrageous, then saving some cash and signing Evanilson could easily prove to be a masterstroke.

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