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Opinion

Newcastle United could have their very own Kane and Son but may need ASM sacrifice

5 months ago
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A lot of lazy reporting on Newcastle United recently, no surprise there.

Much of it has centred around parrot-like repeating of Steve Bruce’s often repeated claim that Newcastle United have seen their season damaged more than any other club, due to injuries to key attacking players.

A load of rubbish of course because whilst there have been injuries, they have been nothing close to being as severe as Bruce makes out.

The two players he has constantly lamented, if only they hadn’t been out for so much of the season, are Callum Wilson and Allan Saint-Maximin. The reality is that Wilson has only failed to make a quarter of the PL NUFC matchday squads (9 of 36), whilst for ASM he has missed around a third of PL squads (13 of 36).

With those players available once again and it coinciding with some relatively better form and results, Steve Bruce and his friendly media have put the vast majority of the focus on this pair.

I think they have contributed BUT ironically, it is a player who Steve Bruce made a scapegoat of and dropped, who has been by far the most influential in recent games. Joe Willock was dropped by Steve Bruce after the 3-0 at Brighton whilst Bruce favourite Jonjo Shelvey somehow kept his place.

Willock back in after scoring off the bench three matches in a row, scoring and starring yet again when getting the first goal at Leicester.

No coincidence that by far the worst Newcastle performance since that Brighton one, was when Joe Willock couldn’t play against Arsenal. United desperately short of any kind of attacking threat in that game, missing the loan player’s intelligent movement and runs into the box.

Looking ahead, for me the key thing is that  Newcastle United have to buy Joe Willock as their massive top priority.

Not to overstate it but I can see Callum Wilson and Joe Willock becoming a bit like the Harry Kane / Dele Alli partnership at Spurs, or even better, a Kane / Son type one.

Potentially, Wilson and Willock (sounds like a firm of solicitors!) could be capable of scoring the best part of 30 goals a season in the right circumstances, with the right support.

I do like Allan Saint-Maximin and think he is good for the team BUT what the stats tell me, is that ASM has scored six goals in two Premier League seasons, whilst Joe Willock has scored six already despite only nine PL starts, as Steve Bruce ridiculously left him out in four of thirteen PL matches so far.

It isn’t a case of me wanting Allan Saint-Maximin to be sold BUT assuming there is no takeover this summer, we have to face reality, that Mike Ashley will allow a minimal budget, if anything.

ASM is great to watch a lot of the time, though actually I don’t think he has been remotely near his best in recent games, but we are still yet to see him really convince in terms of end product.

Not a disaster but the end product stats don’t in any way reflect what you feel he could / should be capable of. As well as three goals in each of these last two Premier League seasons, ASM has four assists in each of the 2019/20 and 2020/21 PL matches.

I also think he will always be prone to getting injuries, plus sometimes in a game when he gets a bad challenge, it can make him disappear.

You need players getting into the box in open play or else you will never score many goals.

That has been the case recently and it is this that has made the difference, with Joe Willock by far the biggest part of it.

The more I watch him, the more I see a player who just has that knack of arriving in the box at exactly the right time, plus he has scored goals with both feet and his head. Willock also has pace and showed with the Leicester goal how he can also run with the ball and outpace a defence.

I will be gutted if ASM goes this summer but I will be significantly more gutted if Joe Willock isn’t signed.

I really hope that a takeover can happen in the coming weeks / months and it meaning that we can keep Saint-Maximin and buy Willock.

However, if it came down to one or the other, I would have Joe Willock by a comfortable distance.

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