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'He'll wear the No. 9 shirt with pride' - Bruce's take on record signing

Head coach Steve Bruce is confident that club record signing Joelinton will relish the chance to wear Newcastle United’s No. 9 shirt after completing his move to St. James’ Park on Tuesday.

The Brazilian linked up with the Magpies after leaving Bundesliga outfit Hoffenheim, where he struck 11 goals – including one in the Champions League – last season.

Joelinton takes over the club’s iconic No. 9 jersey from another South American, Salomón Rondón, and Bruce is backing the 22-year-old to follow in the footsteps of many of his predecessors by hitting the ground running in black and white.

“I think he’s learned the history (of the shirt) and wanted it, and that’s always a big shirt to fill,” he said. “In his eyes, it was ‘bring it on – it’s what I’m here for’. It’s great that he’s risen to that challenge so quickly. I’m sure he’ll wear the No. 9 shirt with a load of pride.

“I think I’ve always said that you’re only as good as your strikers, whatever division you’re in, but especially in the Premier League. What we were lacking was a typical No. 9, a typical centre forward. We haven’t really had one since Rondón left the club. He’s an ideal replacement and we’re delighted we’ve got him.”

After starting out with Sport Recife – a short drive away from his hometown of Aliança – Joelinton moved to Hoffenheim in the summer of 2015, making his debut for die Kraichgauer later that year.

Following two seasons on loan at Rapid Vienna – where he scored 21 goals in 79 appearances – he returned to Hoffenheim for the 2018/19 campaign, helping Julian Nagelsmann’s side to a top-half finish in the Bundesliga.

“I’m sure he’ll be a big, big favourite of the supporters,” Bruce added. “He’s got an incredible work-rate about him, a really good humility about him, and he’s got all of the attributes a top striker needs.

“He’s big, he’s strong and he’s athletic, and of course he’s got age on his side too, which is obviously vitally important. He’s full of life, energy and hunger and he wants to do well. He’s a typical Brazilian, if you want. They’ve always had smashing skills but there’s a certain toughness about them, too, and he’s got that in abundance.”

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