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Newcastle signing this 27-year-old African star for free would be an absolute steal by Steve Bruce

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Newcastle United opinion: Signing Afriyie Acquah would be a massive coup

According to Football Ghana, Newcastle United have expressed an interest in signing Ghanaian international midfielder Afriye Acquah, who is currently a free agent following the expiry of his contract at Serie A side Empoli. 

Football Ghana understands that new manager Steve Bruce is keen to pursue an interest in some of Rafael Benitez’s previous transfer targets, with the report claiming that the 27-year-old had been identified as a top priority earlier in the summer by the Spaniard, who has now departed Tyneside to take up the job at Chinese side Dalian Yifang. 

Acquah made a total of 28 appearances in the Serie A for Empoli last season but he could not do much to help his club beat the drop, as the Gli Azzurri finished 18th in the standings after operating in the lower reaches of the league for the entirety of the campaign.

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However, he is out of contract now and currently without a club, although that might change soon if Newcastle push hard for a move. 

The 27-year-old, who represented Ghana at the recently-concluded 2019 Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt, has played in the Serie A right from the start of his career, featuring for clubs like Palermo, Parma, Sampdoria, Torino and Empoli.

Acquah has had somewhat of a nomadic career in the Italian top-flight over the years and he might add a seventh club to his CV should a move to St. James’ Park materialize this summer. 

The 33-cap Ghanaian international has racked up a total of 193 Serie A appearances for the likes of Palermo, Parma, Sampdoria, Torino and Empoli, scoring 8 goals and setting up another 6 in the process.

While those numbers do not flatter much, one must not forget that Acquah is a defensive midfielder by trade, meaning that contributions in terms of goals cannot be considered as the primary yardstick of his success over the years. 

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A tough, tenacious, robust and hardworking defensive midfielder noted for his work ethics, stamina, neat first touch and dribbling skills, Acquah is not only adept at breaking up the play and winning possession back for his team but he also excels with his ability to carry the ball forward with pace and switch the play with his immaculate distribution.

A powerful striker of the ball with both feet, the Ghanaian might not have that impeccable technical ability and natural finesse but he makes up for it with his drive, determination, temperament and composure.

To put things into perspective, it is a no-brainer that the acquisition of a player of Acquah’s calibre and experience on a free transfer would be a massive coup for Newcastle United, given the club’s shoestring budget and new manager Steve Bruce’s love for tough-tackling and all-action midfielders. 

The Magpies are understood to be in the market for reinforcements in central midfield, with Mo Diame already out of the frame and plenty of speculation surrounding the future of Sean Longstaff and Isaac Hayden.

Hayden is likely to leave the club this summer in order to stay closer to his family (h/t Telegraph), while Longstaff has been identified by Man United as one of the top targets (h/t Metro).

The 27-year-old is very much in his prime years and his availability on a free transfer should dampen the risk factor involved in the move to a large extent.

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Newcastle are likely to have the Jonjo Shelvey and Ki Sung-yueng as options in central midfield if Hayden and Longstaff both head for the exit door but they should probably consider signing Afriyie Acquah irrespective of all other factors. 

As a matter of fact, bringing the Ghanaian in on a free transfer would save the precious funds for Newcastle to invest in their forward line, given that they are currently very light in their striking options following the departure of Salomon Rondon, Ayoze Perez and Joselu. 

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Keeping that in mind, Steve Bruce should go all out in his pursuit of the 27-year-old midfield enforcer and he might as well go on to play a big role in the Premier League next season.