The summer transfer window saw Newcastle United splash the cash on club-record signing Alexander Isak, although sporting director Dan Ashworth may well be wondering whether those funds could have been better used elsewhere, with Benfica’s Goncalo Ramos having also been a notable target in the summer.
While Isak will no doubt go on to thrive at St James’ Park after an injury-hit start to life in English football, it is hard to ignore the goalscoring exploits of that man Ramos at present, with the 21-year-old having been in blistering form for both club and country of late.
Having partnered Liverpool’s Darwin Nunez in attack for the Portuguese outfit last term, the explosive marksman has now stepped out of the Uruguayan’s shadow to become the leading man for the Lisbon outfit this time around.
The 6 foot 1 sensation has started the season in scintillating fashion with 14 goals and six assists in 21 games in all competitions so far this term, including nine goals and three assists in just 11 Primeira Liga games.
That has ensured that the striker’s overall tally for the club now stands at 28 goals and ten assists in just 80 games in all competitions thus far, having also previously scored 14 times in just 18 games for Portugal at U21 level.
Unsurprisingly that hot streak caught the attention of national team boss Fernando Santos as Ramos was included in his nation’s World Cup squad, with that decision having more than paid off as far as the experienced coach is concerned.
After scoring on debut off the bench in the friendly win over Nigeria leading up to the tournament, the exciting prospect was then handed a surprise first start for his country in the last-16 tie against Switzerland, having been selected ahead of the misfiring Cristiano Ronaldo – the latter man having been subbed off in the final group game.
While all eyes were on the ex-Manchester United hotshot on the bench, it was his young compatriot who stole the headlines on the pitch, with Ramos staking his claim for increased involvement in the remainder of the tournament after netting a ruthless hat-trick in the one-sided, 6-1 drubbing.
That “stunning” performance – as described by The Athletic’s Laurie Whitwell – showcased the full range of the youngster’s talents as he produced three clinical finishes, including an early thunderous strike from the angle, as well as a deft chip late on to clinch his treble.
It was a historical treble too, with the attacker becoming the second youngest player behind only Pele to score a hat-trick in the knock-out stages of a World Cup. Fine work indeed.
Not only potent in front of goal – having registered five shots on target in total – the £21m-rated man also laid on an assist and registered two key passes as part of a free-flowing forward line, with that all-round display unsurprisingly warranting a 9.8 match rating, as per Sofascore.
After a ‘dream evening‘ for the four-cap machine – in the words of the Independent’s Kieran Jackson – he has surely now announced himself to the wider world, with Eddie Howe and co potentially left to rue that inability to get him through the door in the recent window.
Nevertheless, the aforementioned Ashworth could well right that wrong and make another approach in the New Year, with such an addition likely to only improve the club’s chances of Champions League qualification.