"I'm absolutely delighted. The fans have made me feel at home since my first day here and I feel so loved in my life," were the words of Bruno Guimaraes upon confirmation of a new Newcastle United contract on October 7.
The Brazilian's new and improved five-year deal was rich reward for his incredible impact at St James' Park, with the club now mixing it with Europe's elite in the Champions League rather than battling it out at the wrong end of the Premier League table.
Guimaraes hasn't been solely responsible for Newcastle's upturn in fortunes - countless players have contributed to what's been a remarkable turnaround in the North East - but few would argue that his arrival from Lyon was the catalyst for change under Eddie Howe.
It should come as no surprise then that Guimaraes, despite inking his new deal, continues to be linked with some of the biggest clubs in the world.
Real Madrid have shown interest in the past - the 25-year-old admitted in October 2022 that he'd held a "conversation" with the 14-time Champions League winners - and treble-winners Manchester City have also been touted as a future landing spot.
Then there's Barcelona, who continue to be linked with the biggest and best players in the world despite their dire financial situation. The Catalan giants were unable to engineer a fairytale return for Lionel Messi in the summer, but they have managed to get deals for Robert Lewandowski, Raphinha and Jules Kounde over the line during this period of monetary strife.
Barca also strengthened in central midfield this summer, luring Ilkay Gundogan from Premier League champions City on a free transfer, and now boast a talent pool of players that includes Frenkie de Jong, Pedri and Gavi.
But they are a little light in terms of squad depth, which has seen the likes of Lamine Yamal and Fermin Lopez, two extremely talented youngsters, fast-tracked into Xavi's first team.
That's where Bruno Guimaraes comes into the mix, courtesy of a report from Spanish publication SPORT. They suggest his new deal at St James' Park, which also saw him say: "I'm so happy here. It's a place that is so comfortable to be and I hope to keep making the supporters happy and helping the team do well," contains a special release clause that allows him to specifically join Barcelona for a paltry figure around the £60m mark.
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That would represent a remarkable piece of business for Barcelona, but would also mean that Newcastle stand to make little over £20m profit on a player who has improved immeasurably since trading Ligue 1 for the Premier League.
Though unable to confirm the full details, 90min understands that Guimaraes' new contract does include a release clause. But it's believed that any offer, including from Barcelona, would need to see Newcastle pocket in excess of £100m - putting the deep-lying playmaker in the same price bracket as Declan Rice and Moises Caicedo, who have operated at a similar level over the last year.
Irrespective of the clause, Guimaraes' commitment to Newcastle, at least in the short-term, appears to be unwavering. "I remember in my first interview, I said I wanted to play for this club in the Champions League and now it's happening.," he remarked after signing until 2028.
"We are doing so well and when I look around the pitch at my team-mates, I am so proud of them all. I'm proud of everyone; the team, the staff, the owners and the fans. The city believes again and it's unbelievable what we have done for the team. I hope that this can continue. It's amazing what has happened in my life in the last two years."
Newcastle intend to reward more of their players with new and improved terms in the coming weeks - Joelinton among those in line after confirmation of a new contract for Dan Burn on Friday.