Vurnon Anita has been at Newcastle United now since the summer of 2012. His contract however, runs out at the end of this season.
In the time he has been at the club he has made 142 appearances in all competitions and scored 3 goals, not exactly amazing stats, but then again he isn’t in the team to score goals. He is in the team for his versatility, football intelligence and hard work.
Vurnon Anita was signed as a centre midfielder, intended to slot in alongside Cheick Tiote and Yohan Cabaye, offering balance to the midfield.
However, he struggled to make an impact, largely down to his lack of physical presence. Bullied off the ball constantly by almost every other midfielder in the league and it was clear to see Alan Pardew didn’t fancy him – he only played because Cabaye was injured for a large part of the 2012/13 season. His best game in that season was arguably at right-back when he scored a cracking volley away against Club Brugge in a 2-2 Europa League draw.
This brings me nicely onto Anita since Rafa took over and in my opinion he looks a totally different man, combining tenacity and a willingness to fight for his team with excellent reading of the game and precise passing.
Rafa clearly rates Vurnon Anita very highly but obviously at right-back, not in the centre of the pitch; this could because his lack of physicality is not as important at full-back as it is midfield.
At right-back Anita offers a much more defensively solid option than Yedlin, due to his reading of the game, relying on perfectly timed tackles and interceptions as opposed to Yedlin, who uses his pace and physicality to defend.
Going forward as well he picks his runs judging on the positioning of his teammates, meaning down the right side of the defence Newcastle are very rarely exposed when Anita plays, he even scored last season from right-back against Man City.
With Anita’s contract running out then in 6 months and pictures emerging of him at the recent Feyenoord game, surely it’s time for Newcastle to act and give a big new contract to a player who Rafa rates very highly and also a player with the ability to read the game so well.
For me personally, Vurnon Anita would be a massive loss to the squad if he were to go next summer.