Joelinton getting a fair hearing?
There is no getting away from it, since his £40m move from Hoffenheim in 2019, Joelinton has been underwhelming.
The 24 year old Brazilian has managed just three goals (and four assists) in 58 appearances in the Premier League since he arrived on Tyneside, with much promise and a reputation as a hot prospect across the continent.
However, is the relentless criticism he receives week in, week out, in a team that is underperforming as a whole, justified?
For much of his Newcastle career, Joelinton has struggled as the sole striker in a 5-4-1 formation. Isolated and out of position, there have been countless games where he has been totally alone and starved of service.
In a team that created very few chances when the increasingly injury-prone Allan Saint-Maximin was not playing, much of the responsibility of both creating and scoring fell on Joelinton.
It is clear that whilst he has not by any means justified his price tag, the formations and positions that Joelinton has generally been played in, have certainly played a part in his struggles.
Newcastle have adopted a 4-4-2 and a 4-3-1-2 formation more regularly this season which has seen them offer more of an attacking threat as a team. This has been more apparent in recent weeks, as there has also been a distinct mentality shift to accompany the 4-3-1-2 formation.
Callum Wilson has thrived off this attacking mindset when fit and his goals have single-handedly ensured, that Newcastle have a chance of remaining in the Premier League this season.
In this formation, Joelinton got more chances against Wolves on Saturday than I have seen him get in any game in his Newcastle career to date. The Brazilian would have got his name on the scoresheet if it hadn’t been for some heroic defending by Romain Saiss.
Moreover, when Joelinton has been deployed in a deeper role, he has looked more impressive. Earlier in the season, he produced a great performance against Crystal Palace as he scored and assisted in a 2-0 away win at Selhurst Park. At that point in the season, it looked as though he and Wilson were forming an effective partnership.
Now, I am by no means exempting Joelinton from blame, as many fans often get frustrated with his body language and the regularity at which he looks disinterested on a football pitch. From young professional footballers, we have come to expect players that are hungry to make a difference and work harder than anyone else on the pitch to earn their position in the starting 11.
Often, this doesn’t seem to be the case for the 24 year old. Too frequently have we seen Joelinton jog slowly towards the box when we would expect him, as our number 9, to be hungry for goals and give everything to get into the area.
This is where Joelinton and Callum Wilson differ.
The reason Callum Wilson has scored so many goals this season for Newcastle is not just because he is a more natural finisher than Joelinton; a large part of it is because he is simply hungrier. Wilson gets into the right areas because he has a desire to.
This is perhaps why a large proportion of Newcastle fans get frustrated with Joelinton. There is an expectation that comes with a large price tag and the ownership of the number 9 shirt and as yet, Joelinton has not lived up to that.
It isn’t Joelinton’s fault that Newcastle forked out £40m for him but he still needs to be doing more for the team. Newcastle fans expect players to work hard as a minimum, and when it looks as though you aren’t doing that, they are going to criticise you,
In the same breath, we cannot ignore when Joelinton has had a decent game. Despite what people may claim, Joelinton wasn’t the worst player on the pitch against Wolves, and his inability to score that chance was more due to good defending than bad finishing.
Yes, overall Joelinton has been underwhelming.
Yes, he looks disinterested a times.
However, in a time when Newcastle are looking for someone to provide goals in the absence of Callum Wilson, perhaps he is the best option?
I am not saying Joelinton shouldn’t receive criticism, every player should when they’re not playing well or doing their job in the team.
On the other hand, should the Brazilian be incessantly singled out when the team as a whole has performed poorly this season?
I’m not so sure.
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