Newcastle and gold medal Olympians. Coloccini (broke his back doing an overhead kick near the corner flag) and Geremi (broke his back to be in the top ten worst list of players in our history).

However, developments through the day point towards United investing hard to bring another to the club, as Brazilian Bruno Guimarães looks set to smash the stalemates of the last few days to smithereens in a £35m plus deal. No one saw that one coming.

What a buy this could be. The times are changing. Newcastle United is now in for a player who was once described as “the best midfielder in the world”.

Ok, the man who said that was the Sporting Director of the club trying to sell him but that sporting director – Juninho – knew a thing about that himself.

Not the Juninho who caused a freak spell of sombrero buying on Teesside, the one who Lyon fans still rate as one of the best players to ever play for them and the player who often gets voted in his homeland as the best free kick taker, which is not bad considering the rivals.

Guimarães made the move Juninho had twenty years earlier. Brazilian players moving across the Atlantic isn’t new. Hundreds of players a year make the journey to all points from South America to destinations from Belarus to Belgium, but rarely is it smooth. New languages, new cultures and finding out you can’t run for 40 yards without passing and taking the whole team on twice. It’s ok, son, we have one of those already.

However when the 24 year old Rio-born midfielder arrived in February 2020 he hit the ground running. In his first two games these were the fixtures:

Juventus last 16 Champions League tie

Saint Etienne (Lyon’s main rival, arguably France’s biggest game)

Guess what? He was man of the match in both.

Even those people who had seen him in Brazil were surprised at how he had hit the ground running. Beating St Etienne is one thing, doing the business against Juventus is something else.

Against La Grande Signoera he had been magnificent, running the game with his long range passing and energy. The first leg at home was thought to be the prelude to a simple Juventus second-leg win, but that night they won 1-0 and Guimarães showed why Lyon had invested so much in him. However, all of this was happening against a backdrop of financial ruin in France. Olympique Lyonnais had stuck their necks out.

The following few weeks, though, saw Guimarães and the world in limbo as the season was stopped and Coronavirus ripped the world to shreds.

A young player just in a foreign country, not knowing the language, was faced with a global pandemic. Lyon went on to play just 120 minutes more football in 6 months, a French league cup final, as controversially the league season was abandoned.

The next game after that was in August 2020 as the second leg against Juventus in Turin was finally played.

Incredibly Guimarães played even better than in the first leg. Juventus had played 14 games in the run up to this game and were firm favourites but along with Houssem Aouar, Guimarães ran the show as Lyon shocked the football world by going through on away goals. Maxence Caqueret and Bruno pulled the strings by bursting beyond the Juventus lines to get them up the pitch.

Ronaldo predictably won the man of the match that night but he always does. Guimarães won it in the poll of Lyon fans.

That result meant they moved on to a mini tournament in Lisbon as UEFA tried to mop up the competition against all odds.

In the build up to that competition he admitted Ligue1 had caught him physically lacking. “The French league is very hard, very physical… I have done strength tests, fat reduction and I’ve increased my muscle mass. I hope it works”

He might be in for another shock over here, but many French based players have taken to the Premier League with ease because Ligue 1  is harder than many consider.

In the second leg against Juventus he was used as the deepest of the three midfielders, picking the ball up in front of a back three and using the width. He was perfect for Cornet, now at Burnley. For United, this could be his position, sitting in front of the defence and passing teams to death. The fulcrum of the side. Who was the last player that did that? Cabaye?

On to Lisbon to face Manchester City and our man was to play exactly the same deep role against the best side in the world at the time.

The game was one legged and this favoured Lyon. Cornet put them ahead and Guimarães spent the next hour keeping Man City at bay. His play lacked the dynamism it did against Juve, but what remained was his ability to get Lyon up the pitch. He was substituted after just over an hour as De Bruyne equalised but in his absence Dembele scored twice to send them through, incredibly.

He started against Bayern next too and created an early chance for Ekambi which was missed and they would be made to pay for that. Bayern became a game too far but Bruno had made his mark.

The start of the next season was a few weeks away and he was already spoken of as a future star. However it was to be a frustrating season for Guimarães, which hit a low point at the turn of the New Year when he didn’t make the first team.

Rudi Garcia, the coach, preferred fellow Brazilian Thiago who played deeper, a more defensive minded player. This enraged the Lyon fans who rated him inferior to Guamarães.

He also caught Covid which he never really recovered from. His three goals and one assist were an underwhelming effort considering two goals came in one game against Lorient. He did strike up a fine understanding with Toon loan hero Islam Slimani… however.

To be fair, his career high happened after that frustrating season as he inspired the young Brazil side to gold at the Tokyo Olympics. This was his second career honour after the South American equivalent of the Europa League. What a thing to show Jeff Hendrick in the changing room

The arrival of Peter Bosz at Lyon has been good for Guimarães. He returned to the first team  though Lyon have been terrible in 2022. This season he has been the more senior player in the midfield and certainly Les Gones’ stand out player.

Operating in a double pivot with Caqueret  he’s been a rare gem in a rubbish season which sees Lyon in 11th and 21 points behind Paris St Germain. He may feel he needs a fresh start and Lyon certainly need the cash. They owe Paranense 20% as part of the deal and could see this money as a back-up if they fail to qualify for Europe.

After so many near misses with transfers, maybe we have just been patient to get the player we really need. He will demand shirt number 39. It’s always given his family luck  and I think we might be able to manage that for a player who might come of age at St James’ Park.

SCOTT ROBSON