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Newcastle: Botman’s omission is ‘strange’, says Keith Downie

Newcastle: Botman’s omission is ‘strange’, says Keith Downie -Follow up

It is ‘strange’ Newcastle United defender Sven Botman has not started more since arriving at St. James’ Park, according to Sky Sports reporter Keith Downie.

The Lowdown: Botman’s arrival

After several rounds of failed negotiations in January, the Magpies announced the £35m signing of the 22-year-old centre-back in July.

Having arrived on Tyneside as Eddie Howe’s first-choice defensive transfer target, it was thought the U21 Netherlands international would slot straight in at the back going into the Premier League season.

However, after seven league games played, Botman has featured in Howe’s starting XI on just four occasions – having often been benched in favour of Dan Burn, who joined the club in January for £13m.

The Latest: Downie’s claim

Downie has been surprised with Howe’s decision to bench Botman, in favour of Burn, for their recent fixtures against Liverpool and Bournemouth.

Speaking with GiveMeSport, the Sky Sports reporter claimed:

“I am surprised. I was surprised that Burn started at the weekend, and Botman was on the bench.

“It’s strange that you’re spending that kind of money on a centre-back, and he’s a sub. I think they were always going to have that little problem with the two of them playing in the same position.”

The Verdict: Big potential

When comparing the underlying stats of the two defenders, Howe’s decision to start Burn over Botman does not appear to be too outlandish.

As per FBRef, compared with positional peers across Europe over the past year, the Englishman ranks in the 97th percentile for aerials won, in the 93rd percentile for clearances and in the 90th percentile for blocks.

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The Dutchman, on the other hand, ranks in the 67th percentile for aerials won, in the 75th percentile for clearances and in the 73rd percentile for blocks. Even Botman’s highest statistic, which comes in at the 88th percentile for touches in the attacking penalty area, is trumped by Burn, who finishes in the top ten percent.

However, at 22 years old, the former Lille centre-back certainly has fantastic potential, and this has often been on show at St. James’ Park this season. Therefore, this illustrates alone why he will be Howe’s long-term option in the position.

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Article title: Newcastle: Botman’s omission is ‘strange’, says Keith Downie

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