Thursday saw Newcastle United announce that Paul Dummett had signed a new long-term contract.
Despite being set to turn 27 in September and having made over 130 appearances for the Magpies, debate still rages over the Geordie defender.
Injured after only a few minutes of the opening game of the season against Spurs, Dummett returned to Premier League action for the defeat at home to Manchester City in December.
Starting six PL matches since then, if you ignore the 3-1 defeat at The Etihad, Newcastle have only conceded three goals in the other five games.
The problems are more at the other end of the pitch, with the last eight Premier League matches seeing Newcastle unable to score more than one goal in any of those games.
Despite this, the new Paul Dummett contract prompted a reawakening of the debate as to whether he is good enough for the Premier League.
One side arguing that he is a dependable defender who is reliable, gets stuck in, and helps make Newcastle a more solid proposition than any of the other options.
Alternatively, others say that Dummett doesn’t give enough, if anything, going forward and NUFC need a better player who can do both, defend and get up and down the pitch to help the attack.
The fact is, even though neither want to accept it, that they are both right – at least up to a point.
Paul Dummett is the best left-back we have got and yes, Newcastle could do better than him.
However, you could say that about every position on the pitch.
Actually, Paul Dummett maybe ideally sums up the current squad/team, tries his heart out and always attempts to give his best.
My thoughts on the Geordie defender have never really changed, I think he has earned the right to be part of a Premier League Newcastle squad and is an asset, but if we are to look to be a top half side then United need a first choice left-back with more quality.
We aren’t at that point yet though. Rafa hasn’t been backed in the transfer market to bring in better quality players, so without doubt Paul Dummett has shown he is one of our best current 11 players.
Lazaar is hopeless, Haidara little better, Gamez looks finished, whilst Manquillo also gives everything but isn’t as good a defender as Paul Dummett.
What is beyond doubt for me is that the arrival of Kenedy has made a massive difference.
Whoever has played at left-back this season has invariably had Christian Atsu in front of him, the Ghanaian winger turning up only once every four or five matches and only rarely showing any real quality.
Until Kenedy’s arrival, Newcastle didn’t really have a single player who was prepared to take on his man, the best we had was probably DeAndre Yedlin who would occasionally just put his head down and attempt to charge past/through his opponent using his blinding pace.
The Chelsea loan player has not only massively helped the left-back position in terms of less expectation/need on Dummett to get forward, it has indeed transformed the whole team. Having somebody prepared to run with the ball means that the opposition can’t just sit there in the knowledge that Newcastle have no other option than to try and pass through you, looking far too predictable much of the time.
I look forward to a time when Rafa Benitez signs a new exciting quality left-back who can attack and defend, with Paul Dummett becoming the challenger for the position, as well as being cover for left-back and centre-back, a position that many fans think is his best, particularly as it negates his lack of pace and ability to get forward.
I think he would still be a valuable squad member and in the first 18, whilst in the meantime Dummett is a surefire starter.
The fact he is the one Geordie in the team/squad who has come through the ranks makes him unique as well, hopefully that area will also show massive improvement in the years to come, if Ashley goes and Rafa stays – then is properly backed by new owners.
In the shorter-term Newcastle most definitely need character to help survive this relegation battle and Paul Dummett is definitely one of the players who can supply that.