Newcastle have been linked with Lille defensive midfielder Thiago Maia, who turned 21 in March.
These are the type of good young players Rafa wants to bring into the club, and at 21-years-old Maia would immediately challenge for a first team starting spot at Newcastle.
Newcastle are reported to have bid for the player, and that bid was immediately turned down by Lille, but the advantage Newcastle have is that Lille are in severe financial trouble at the moment.
Because of that, the French club are willing to sell Maia but only at the right price – so that price could determine whether Newcastle can sign the Brazilian U23 International.
Thiago Maia – in action against Montpellier last season
Lille paid €14M (about £12.3M) for him a year ago when he was signed from Santos so they will want more than that if they sell him this summer.
A couple of days ago Maia talked to Brazilian outlet Globoesporte:
“I am very happy in Lille and I hope to continue so that I can gain a little more experience in Europe,
“I know that this first season I had was about learning and it was not easy, not only for me but also for the other Brazilians, the other athletes and the coach as well.”
“But I hope that what happened in the past does not happen in the present.”
“What I felt most difficult about the adaptation was with food and language.”
“Because my mother did not go with me at first, and then I had to eat what I had there, I got used to not eating rice, beans, meat and not having it was difficult for me.”
“But soon after my mother went with me and things were getting on slowly – I even lost some muscle mass because I was not eating well at first.”
Thiago Maia made 37 appearances for Lille last year in all competitions with one goal.
And he was in the Brazilian side that won the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro when they beat Germany 5-4 on penalties after the game had finished 1-1 after extra time.
He would be an excellent long-term signing for Newcastle.
What do you think?