According to an update on Twitter from Sky Sports reporter Keith Downie, Newcastle United will be without Jetro Willems and Paul Dummett ‘for the rest of the season’ – with the news potentially meaning that landing reported target Valentino Lazaro is now a necessity rather than a luxury.
If recent reports are to be believed, the Magpies could be close to signing the Inter Milan winger as manager Steve Bruce prepares for his first January arrival – at least according to the Northern Echo – but injuries to both Willems and Dummett, Newcastle’s first-choice left-back options, have made swooping for the Austrian a possible necessity.
Lazaro, who was likened to Willian during his last season at Hertha Berlin (Bundesliga official), is currently out of favour at Inter – having made just six Serie A appearances overall for the Nerazzuri after signing in the summer. By comparison to current Newcastle man Christian Atsu, Lazaro reigns superior in terms of stats – averaging more key passes per game (1.8) and completed dribbles (1.1) than the Ghanaian last season, all the while scoring three goals and assisting six others, as per WhoScored.com.
Not only does he provide key strength in depth on the left hand side, but he can also operate as a wing-back – potentially solving Bruce’s crisis when it comes to replacing the influence of Willems in particular. Lazaro has also amassed similar defensive stats to the Dutchman when playing regularly in 2018/2019 – making more interceptions (1.4) and standing in the way of more shots (0.4) on average – even if Willems still has the better tackles per game record (1.9) and made more clearances (2) in the league.
Regardless, their stats do seem similar when it comes to contributions at the back, and taking into account Newcastle’s severe shortage of options on the left-hand side, Lazaro’s versatility could prove that he is a compulsory pursuit – especially taking into account that Newcastle could end up landing ‘the most talented Austrian in the Bundesliga since David Alaba‘.
Amid reported interest from RB Leipzig (via Bild), the Toon Army need to wrap this deal up.
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