It’s an old joke but Mohamed Diame is showing his versatility…
Last season, Rafa Benitez alternated between Mohamed Diame and Ayoze Perez for the key number 10 position, just behind sole striker Dwight Gayle.
I think it was generally agreed amongst supporters that this proved to be the weakest part of the team, with neither player impressing and Rafa constantly shifting between them simply because he had no other real alternatives.
Having scored 10 goals and got four assists to help Hull to promotion the season before, a return of only three goals and three assists for the Magpies was pretty shocking for a player who had previously only played Premier League football in England.
In fact his all round play was really poor, a major letdown for the United boss who had every reason to expect a whole lot more when giving the midfielder big wages when meeting his contract release clause transfer fee.
This summer has seen Rafa Benitez giving Siem de Jong a big chance to try and convince in that number 10 role, only Florian Lejeune (260 minutes) has played more in the four friendlies than the Dutchman (227 minutes).
Siem de Jong has shown nothing to suggest he has anything to offer this season in the Premier League, which is the same case with Mohamed Diame, who has manly been played in a deeper midfield role this summer and only the three players have been given more minutes than the 212 Diame has had.
Shelvey, Ritchie, Gayle and Clark have already proved in the past, to lesser or greater degrees, that they can perform in the Premier League and all four looked a class above the Championship, suggesting strongly that they will more than hold their own this coming season.
Mohamed Diame has also shown over the course of six seasons (179 appearances) in the Premier League that he can play at that level BUT he has shown nothing in his time at Newcastle to suggest that this will be the case when the Premier League kicks off in 13 days time.
I went to Hearts, Preston and Bradford, then watched the whole Mainz match on TV at my local, and I have to say, Mohamed Diame has been totally rubbish in the friendlies.
As I suggested in the title at the top of this article, he is living up to that old joke of showing his versatility, by being absolutely garbage in any position he plays!
It is a major worry that with none of de Jong, Diame or Perez being anywhere close to be good enough to play in this key position, it is surely the priority for Rafa Benitez to try and find somebody in the next few days.
Yes the transfer market is difficult but it won’t be too hard to find somebody better in the number 10 role than this trio.
If all else fails I would like to see Matt Ritchie moved into that position just behind Gayle, then maybe Aarons and Murphy on the wings, Alternatively, maybe Jonjo Shelvey could be pushed up into a more forward position, though then you have the dilemma of who to play deeper in midfield with Isaac Hayden – Colback and Diame not good enough and Mikel Merino very inexperienced with only two starts in a top division in his career so far.
So many questions and the Premier League fast approaching.
Mohamed Diame speaking to NUFC TV after the 2-1 defeat to Mainz:
“It was tiring but I feel OK.
“I am playing in the middle, where I like to play , so I’m trying to enjoy my football.
“I am happy to help the team and I’m just trying to get myself ready for the start of the season.
“You always want to win when you play a game but I think it was a good session for everyone because they made us run a lot today, that is good for our fitness.
“Of course we are disappointed with the result.
“I was quite surprised, you do not expect that sort of sun, but the weather was a good thing for our fitness as well, we know how important it is to get fit.
“The most important game is on the 13th (Tottenham) and we need to be ready for that one.
“Wolfsburg are another good team and so it will definitely be a similar game on Wednesday.
“They were German champions (in 2008/09 – but only stayed up last year when winning relegation play-off against Eintracht Braunschweig), so it is going to be a difficult game, but as I say, we are just trying to get better game after game to make sure we are ready on the 13th.”
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