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‘Strong, powerful, athletic, know-how, quality’ – Sounds like a player Newcastle should go for…

4 years ago

Always interesting to see views from outsiders about Newcastle United but some are more surprising than others.

Former Cardiff star Nathan Blake has been talking about what his old side could do with, if they are to sustain their promotion challenge.

Not everybody’s favourite…but you have to give Neil Warnock credit for turning around Cardiff City, from looking like they were on their way to League One last season, to currently third in the Championship with already 31 points from 16 games (Newcastle had 37 at this stage last season, their 16th match actually being a 2-1 home win over Warnock and Cardiff).

Nathan Blake has picked out somebody who would be ideal for Cardiff, who he describes as a ‘kingpin’ of Newcastle’s Championship win last season.

‘Strong, powerful, athletic, know-how, quality’…it sounds like a player who Newcastle United could ideally do with now but I bet I could give you 11 guesses and you still wouldn’t get it right.

Blake is actually referring to Mohamed Diame, a player who only got three goals and three assists in the whole of last season and was very poor for most of it.

Mohamed Diame only came on in the final minute of that home win over Cardiff but I am desperately trying to remember if Cardiff away was one of his two or three decent matches last season and Nathan Blake maybe saw that, the midfielder playing the full 90 minutes in the 2-0 win.

I take it the former Cardiff player definitely didn’t see Mohamed Diame putting in a dreadful display when getting his first start in the Premier League for Newcastle at Burnley.

No doubt Rafa would have loved to shift Mohamed Diame, and others, in the summer but couldn’t get rid. Hopefully there will be a mini clearout in January AND Rafa will be backed to bring in the much needed better quality that is needed to ensure safety this season.

Mohamed Diame should be able to deal with the Premier League but after last season in the Championship we know that is a forlorn hope.

Good luck to Cardiff!

Nathan Blake speaking to Wales Online:

‘So Cardiff don’t need much, they really don’t. What they do require is something a little unique, someone with that extra quality who can make the difference between the top two and the top six at the end of the season.

The person who fits that bill for me is Mohamed Diame, who spends far too much of his time at the moment sitting on the bench up at Newcastle United and who must be itching to play regularly in a successful side.

Diame, for me, is everything the Bluebirds need for the final push under Warnock. Strong, powerful, athletic, experienced and with the know-how of what’s required to go up from the Championship.

He was a kingpin for Newcastle when they won the title last season but his game time has been far more limited in the Premier League under Rafa Benitez.

In fact, Diame has only started one league game this season and that’s a waste of a player of his undoubted ability.

He ticks all the boxes for me. He could play as the holding midfielder instead of Gunnarsson; he could play next to Gunnarsson, with the energy to go box-to-box. Or he could play ahead of Gunnarsson, in the more creative No.10 role. He could fulfil any of those functions with equal aplomb. That’s what I mean by the kind of unique quality Warnock needs to look at.

Make no mistake Diame is a Warnock type of player, too. Leggy, physical, has stature, can be bossy on the pitch.

Just as Gunnarsson is known as a robust tackler whose creativity is vastly under-rated, so Diame is seen as someone with more to his game going forward — but I wouldn’t fancy coming up against him in a challenge. He can crunch with the best of them, trust me.

Perhaps the best analogy would be with Mousa Dembele of Spurs, who is also athletic and powerful, goes box-to-box, but has the vision for a defence splitting pass. The vision, but also the ability for the execution of that pass.

Diame’s wages, of course, may be an issue for the Cardiff hierarchy. But it’s that touch of quality, not quantity, that Warnock needs in January. Cardiff already have the numbers.

If Warnock’s Bluebirds are still in the top three come the turn of the year, Diame has the ability to push them into the top two. His influence could be that significant.

I’ve no doubt other clubs are also monitoring Diame’s situation due to his lack of action up on Tyneside. But he’s the player I feel Cardiff should swoop for, on loan if necessary.

Even if they pay a full transfer fee, Diame would be good enough to justify that by a) helping Cardiff go up and b) being good enough to play for them in the Premier League next season anyway.’


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