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Opinion

Passing the Mohamed Diame test

4 months ago
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Mohamed Diame has been the subject of much debate.

Amongst the media anyway.

Due to the midfielder having a contract that is due to end in June but which has a clause triggering an automatic one year extension, if he starts 25 Premier League games this season.

Mohamed Diame started his 21st PL match of the season against Man Utd on 2 January 2019 but since then, has only two others, the last one being Arsenal away on 1 April.

He has had injury problems but has also been named on the bench seven times since the start of February, as well as at times left out of the matchday 18 altogether.

The newspapers and a number of fans seem to think that it will be a big mistake if the former Senegal international is allowed to move on but I think you just need to ask yourself one question.

Would you want Diame to be a regular first team starter next season?

If you do, then fair enough I understand where you are coming from. I might not agree but at least I understand the reasoning.

However, I just don’t get it.

The performances of Isaac Hayden and Sean Longstaff have pointed to the kind of minimum level we need in central midfield, both of those young players having far more to their game than Mohamed Diame.

These last 14 games have seen Newcastle generally play much better football and in the 12 of those matches that Diame didn’t start, Newcastle won 7, with 2 draws and only 3 defeats. Plus 18 goals have been scored in these 12 matches, compared to only 18 in the other 24 games, 23 of which Diame started.

I’m not blaming the midfielder for our poor form and goalscoring for much of the season but I do see him as more of a problem than a solution when moving forward.

Newcastle need to do everything they can to keep Hayden & Longstaff AND look to bring in one or two central midfielders who are better than them, or at least of their standard.

Giving a new contract to an inferior player just doesn’t make any sense, especially when Mohamed turns 32 in June.

He is not going to improve on what we have seen previously and if you are honest, a lot of that time he has been poor to average. He had that purple patch in February to April last season, as did Shelvey, but has never looked like repeating it this season.

I think he has done an ok job overall but it is time to say thank you and goodbye.

The stats for goalscoring and assists this season are shocking really, far too much reliance on Rondon and Perez, plus of course the simple fact is that Newcastle have scored less goals than everybody outside the bottom four.

These are the stats for how many goals players have been directly involved in, the total number of goals and then in brackets the split between goals and assists, then finally number of minutes played.

These are the players who have been involved in three or more goals and as you can see, there are a whole host of midfielders and attackers who haven’t even managed that. Mohamed Diame has played 2,075 minutes and not had a single goal or assist this season in the Premier League. Last season, it was 2,042 minutes with two goals and no assists.

Sean Longstaff certainly has it in him to score and create, having shown when out on loan at the likes of Blackpool his ability to strike the ball from long range in particular, most of his nine goals last season scored from outside the box.

Isaac Hayden has really improved and has one goal and four assists this season, both he and Longstaff getting into the box.

Having a player in the team who isn’t expected to score or create, especially in midfield, has to be pretty exceptional in the rest of his game. Which obviously Mohamed Diame isn’t.

As well as keeping Rafa Benitez and signing Salomon Rondon on a permanent deal, Newcastle need to be looking to buy better quality to play alongside our better players, improving the overall quality of the team, not anchoring it down by keeping players who can’t even get a game now when everybody is fit.

This goes for any number of current players in the squad, not just Diame.

16 (9 + 7) Salomon Rondon (2,429)

13 (11 + 2) Ayoze Perez (2,748)

8 (2 + 6) Matt Ritchie (2,760)

5 (1 + 4) Isaac Hayden (1,705)

4 (3 + 1) Fabian Schar (1,824)

3 (3 + 0) Ciaran Clark (858)

3 (1 + 2) DeAndre Yedlin (2,475)

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