The Chronicle reported on Sunday that Newcastle United are considering activating the £6m buyout clause Gabriel Pires has at Leganes. Rafael Benitez is said to be an admirer of the attacking midfielder, but The Chronicle believe they’ll be competition from others.

A quick dig into the Sport Witness vaults shows that Newcastle United made an approach for Gabriel during the January transfer window, and the player spoke about it. Leganes knocked it back, but if Newcastle had then been prepared to pay the clause, and done so in good time, a move could have been on.

Spain’s Eco Diario covered the player’s words, and quizzed on a Newcastle approach, Gabriel said: “Yes, I think it was true. But it’s gone and now I think of here, where I am and where I am going to be.

Asked why he didn’t move to Newcastle, Gabriel said: “It was a club subject. I was training and it happened. The club decided it and that was it.”

On a possible summer move to Newcastle or elsewhere, Gabriel added: “That depends on many things. I don’t want to think about that now. I’ve never thought of leaving a club before the league was over.”

The Spanish league ends today, and Leganes, just, have avoided relegation. There’s no talk in Spain of a big chase for the player so Newcastle could have a pretty clear run at Gabriel.

Benitez may, and it could be a slim chance, be able to get the player for cheaper than his clause, something Newcastle clearly weren’t prepared to pay in January.