Newcastle United owed a great deal of credit to Kenedy last season for the difference he made after arriving on a short term loan deal in January, but the quality he demonstrated during his first stint with the club has not been replicated since he agreed to return this summer.
Kenedy injected a level of flair and intensity into Newcastle’s attack which was so desperately missing during the first half of the 2017/18 season. The Brazilian stimulated improvement throughout the team and played a pivotal role in their survival bid.
Without him Newcastle could well be playing Championship football this season, but the Kenedy who epitomised everything that was good about Rafa Benitez’s side during the second half of last season has not shown up since he returned.
A slow start to the season culminated when he took responsibility to clinch a late winner against fellow relegation rival Cardiff City almost two weeks ago and fluffed his chance with a poor effort from the penalty spot.
It’s easy to criticise a player when they are struggling for form, but it must be considered that teammates play a pivotal role in determining the quality of individual performances.
With that being said, Newcastle should already be looking for ways to improve their squad in January, particularly in attacking midfield where they are desperately short of options.
And one player who should be firmly on their radar is Besiktas’ Oguzhan Ozyakup.
The 25-year-old Turkey international is a ball-playing central midfielder by trade who is comfortable playing in the centre or further forward as a number ten.
He is renowned for his creative qualities and his technical ability and his form in Turkey has reportedly attracted interest from Newcastle in the past.
Ozyakup actually joined Beskitas from Arsenal in 2012 for a fee of just £450k, but it’s fair to say his value has risen exponentially during his time in Turkey.
He struggled for form during the last campaign as the manager failed to give him a regular run of games in the first-team, but he enjoyed much greater success during the 2016/17 season when he was a first-team regular.
From 29 appearances Ozyakup managed to find the net 5 times and provide 7 assists, whilst his general inter-play in the final-third and extensive range of passing brought out the best qualities in the players around him.
Kenedy’s disappointing form in the early stages of the season perhaps suggests that he could benefit from the arrival of a proven ball-playing midfielder with the vision to pick out a killer pass.
Ozyakup fits that particular description, so Benitez should make him a prime target for the club in January and persuade Besiktas to make a significant profit on their initial investment.
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