Whilst the massive story in the Northeast is obviously the departure of Rafa Benitez from St James Park, business as usual must continue on the transfer window front if they want to get ahead of their rivals. The Magpies cannot afford to stand still, and even less so now Benitez has departed, which is why these links will be pleasing for the fans.
According to The Burnley Express, the Magpies are set to compete with Arsenal for the signature of Turf Moor favourite Dwight McNeil this summer. It’s a move that makes plenty of sense considering the current climate of the Newcastle squad, and we’ll tell you why.
Under Benitez, a lot of the emphasis of the way the Northeast side played was on being defensively sound, and there were few opportunities for a tricky winger to shine. Of those that were given a go, Christian Atsu, Jacob Murphy and Kenedy failed to really make their mark.
McNeil, though, has done a brilliant job of starring in a similar defensive system 115 miles south at Turf Moor. The 19-year-old broke into the Burnley first-team and bagged three goals and five assists in his 21 Premier League outings, doing more than enough to turn the heads of Arsenal and Newcastle.
The only winger who has really made it work for himself at St James Park has been Matt Ritchie, but that might be down to the fact that the more flashy of the Geordie wingers haven’t been good enough. In the 2018/19 season we saw Murphy, Kenedy and Atsu make a combined 60 appearances, yet they only produced two goals and two assists between them.
So, there’s definitely room for improvement out wide and McNeil would certainly be an upgrade on Atsu and Kenedy. McNeil averaged 1.2 key passes per game and 1.5 dribbles per game in the Premier League this past season which trumps both Atsu (0.6 & 0.9) and Kenedy (0.4 & 1.2). The Magpies scored just 42 goals in the top-flight with only the bottom four teams netting a lower amount, so adding a player like McNeil would give the Tyneside club a great chance of boosting their goals number as key passes help create goalscoring opportunities after all.
The Tyneside club’s defence was rather sturdy this past season, conceding just 48 goals, which put them in joint-seventh for goals conceded. So, the Magpies may be able to progress next season if they replicate their defensive displays and boost productivity in the final third in the form of McNeil, with the potential capture of a prolific striker to get on the end of any key passes possibly helping with that.
And, some Newcastle fans were all for seeing him rock up at St James’ Park back in April (as per Chronicle Live), so the Magpies shouldn’t waste any time in strengthening their options out wide.
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