Just a matter of months ago Newcastle fans expected themselves to be right in the thick of the ongoing relegation battle. However, as Fabian Schar has played his way into the side it’s no coincidence that the Geordies have shot up the table, and now he’ll be going head to head with Bournemouth’s Nathan Ake later this afternoon.
Both Ake and Schar are top Premier League centre-backs. The Cherries’ defender is three years younger than the Newcastle man and has attracted attention from some of England’s top clubs. In the recent January window, rumours circled that the Dutchman could be returning to Chelsea, yet nothing materialised and Ake and Schar are now set to do battle as their sides compete for a spot in the top ten.
At the time of his arrival ahead of the 2017/18 season, Nathan Ake was Bournemouth’s club record signing when Eddie Howe parted with £20 million to bring the smooth Dutchman to Dean Court. So far, that investment has proved to be an incredibly wise one, as the young central defender has so often been the star of the show at the back for the Cherries, despite the fact they still leak goals.
Whilst being slick on the ball, always seeming to be in the right place at the right time and showing an incredible footballing IQ, Ake also has the ability to score goals from the back. His return of three strikes this season is an added bonus for a Bournemouth side that has goals coming in from everywhere, and if Ake can help his side find some form then there really is no reason why they can’t nail down a spot in the Premier League’s top ten.
TT GRADE: A
It was around this time last year when Newcastle fans were cursing their club’s luck that their captain Jamaal Lascelles hadn’t been included in Gareth Southgate’s squad. However, a lot can happen in 12 months as Lascelles now looks like a shadow of a player that he was a year ago and Fabian Schar has ascended to become the number one central defender in the Northeast with his incredible performances.
Rafa Benitez swooped for the 47-cap Swiss centre-back last summer as he was relegated with Deportivo La Coruna in La Liga in a deal worth just £3 million. So far, it’s hard not to look at that deal as one of the signings of the season. Like Ake, Schar also has three Premier League goals to his name so far and he’s helped the Magpies record the 6th best defensive record in the division shipping just 38 goals in their 30 matches so far.
TT GRADE: A+
Whilst both Ake and Schar have been equally important to their respective sides this season, the way that Fabian Schar has come into this struggling Newcastle side, provided support both ends of the pitch and helped them rise from as low as 20th to their current position of 13th is unparalleled. Whilst taking nothing away from the sublime Ake, Schar has been truly phenomenal and has to win this battle.