Just a matter of weeks after Bruno Guimaraes joined Newcastle United in January 2022, it became clear that his growth and development could quite easily escalate past that of the club. Given they are under the ownership of the wealthiest consortium in world football, that is quite the feat and a stark realisation of Guimaraes’ immense potential. Arsenal and Juventus were said to be interested in the Brazilian midfielder when he moved from Lyon for £40m a year ago. It wasn’t as if Newcastle had unearthed an unknown gem, but they had perhaps taken a chance when others wouldn’t.
But really, it was Guimaraes who took the chance, joining when the club were embroiled in a relegation battle that they looked unlikely to get out of. The player believed in the project and has bought into the city and the club in a way that few players in a similar position have in recent years, and he has been rewarded by showers of love from supporters.
“I love to be a Geordie,” the 25-year-old beamed in a recent interview alongside his partner, Ana, two dogs and father, Dick. The latter has become a celebrity in his own right on Tyneside, which sums up the affection many fans have for his son. Newcastle have been on an incredible rise for the past year and Guimaraes has arguably been the most important factor. Everything goes through him; the midfield press, the tempo and the creativity. His absence is always notable; Eddie Howe’s side are yet to win this season without him.
With him in the team, though, they have exceeded all expectations. 14 months on from hopelessness, dreams are the order of the day at St James’ Park. Defeat in the Carabao Cup final to Manchester United felt like the start of something big, and from now until the end of the season, Champions League qualification is the main target. Top ten is still the target, and during what has become a biggest blip of the season, everybody has remained calm and grounded.
Of course, that means other clubs have taken notice. There have been whispers of quiet regret among top sides that they didn’t react to his availability, but more often than not, those teams don’t wait to correct perceived errors. Manchester City, Chelsea and Real Madrid have been linked with a move for the player. Talk went into overdrive after a narrow defeat to City, when Guimaraes disclosed that Pep Guardiola had complimented him on his performance and that they had spoken before developing a good relationship.
Newcastle are keen to tie him down to a new contract. But the reality of a new contract is that some players can outgrow you. It is a cruel paradox in some ways; talent of Guimaraes’ ilk is what clubs need to reach the heights in order to keep them. The pressure is on and supporters better get used to speculation because it isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. But with that said, there has to be realism, and that includes from Guimaraes. Not that he has talked about anything other than wanting to become a Newcastle legend, but playing at the very top is definitely in his future. The question is simply whether he has to move to do that or whether Newcastle get there soon enough to match his ambitions.
At this stage, evidence of progress is all that really matters. Even though Guimaraes laid out his desired path, including league titles and Champions League qualification, when he joined Newcastle, it would be a tall order for any of it to be achieved this early, given the mess they’re were in at the time. But going so close already has definitely proven that Newcastle are in an ideal place to keep him. That’s before you factor in the emotional bond that is developing on both sides.
Guimaraes was awarded the North East Football Writers’ Player of the Year award last week, and he admitted as much at the dinner.
“If we see what we did last season, we were a team that was fighting against relegation,” Guimaraes said. “Now we have got to a final, we’re fighting for the Champions League. This club will be in the Champions League every year in the future.
“What makes me happy is knowing that this is just the first year. We have the potential to be a giant in the world. I’m happy and proud to be part of the revolution of the team, of the city, of everyone, because the city is about football. I can feel it since I signed for the club. This is very special for me.
“I think about staying here for a long time. When I signed, I thought I would like to put my name in the club’s story. I think I’m doing it, but, of course, to get my name there, I need to win a title.
“I know what a title means for the club’s story. People grow up and they never see Newcastle as champions. My motivation here is to win a title for the club.”
Guimaraes is settled at Newcastle and only sees his future there. Rumours are natural but they should be taken as a positive barometer for their success and nothing more.