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Opinion

Joelinton finds his level

2 months ago
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Joelinton has now been at Newcastle United for over two years, arriving at St James Park on 23 July 2019.

Signed six days after Steve Bruce became the replacement for Rafa Benitez, the new NUFC Head Coach clearly not having a clue about the signing of the Brazilian.

Bizarrely, Bruce later claimed that every player signed since 17 July 2019 had only arrived at Newcastle after having first been approved by him.

This claim made despite Mike Ashley making very clear in his infamous PR piece / interview in The Mail on 26 July 2019 (three days after Joelinton signed, nine days after Steve Bruce arrived) that the Joelinton signing had been set up long before Bruce’s arrival.

The whole point of that Ashley PR nonsense in The Mail, was for the Newcastle United owner to try and ridicule Rafa Benitez for having refused to allow the £43m purchase of Joelinton. For some inexplicable reason, Mike Ashley had been determined to at all costs force through a deal that would more than double Newcastle’s previous most expensive signing (Miguel Almiron – £20m).

In his piece that The Mail published, Ashley’s PR people repeatedly made reference to Joelinton as though NUFC had struck gold / oil and how pathetic Rafa Benitez was now going to look, once the 22 Brazilian started playing competitively in a black and white shirt when the season started.

Well, the only people left looking pathetic by the end of that 2019/20 season, was pretty much anybody but Rafa Benitez, who had been involved in any input as to whether this Joelinton deal should have gone ahead, especially at the £43m price that Mike Ashley stated it had been. Despite appalling form and never looking like scoring goals, Steve Bruce featured Joelinton in all 38 Premier League matches that season (many NUFC fans convinced that Mike Ashley was ordering Steve Bruce to play the striker in every match), the Brazilian only putting the ball in the back of the net twice.

Fast forwarding to the present day, we are 11 days away from Joelinton turning 25 and 12 days away from Newcastle kicking off the 2021/22 Premier League season against West Ham.

He is no young kid new to the scene, this will be his seventh season in European football and is a striker who should be hitting his prime…

Last season, as Joelinton continued to look less and less like a goalscoring centre-forward, Steve Bruce eventually admitted he was neither. The NUFC Head Coach saying that the £43m signing wasn’t a natural goalscorer and indeed didn’t even really like getting into the box, indicating that his position was elsewhere, doing work somewhere else on the pitch rather than expected to score goals, or even get in the box much.

I found it amusing that after the first team won their friendly at Burton on Friday night, Steve Bruce when asked on the club’s own TV channel NUFC TV about Joelinton who had scored a header, the interviewer giving the big build up for the Brazilian and obviously expecting the NUFC Head Coach to give his usual over the top reaction when any player does anything even mildly decent, instead answered:

“Look, Joe is Joe.

“It is good to see him back physically right.

“He scored a great header, so that will do him the world of good.”

Joelinton had scored when left unmarked on a corner some six or seven yards out in the middle of the goal. If only he could play against the likes of Burton every week…

I checked out the record signing’s entire playing and goalscoring record since arriving at Newcastle United, Joelinton actually having made 80 appearances for Newcastle already.

Premier League – 69 appearances and 6 goals.

Cups (against Premier League and Championship opposition) – 5 appearances and 0 goals.

Cups (against League One and League Two opposition) – 6 appearances and 4 goals.

One thing massively stands out, only 6 goals in 74 appearances against the top two tier clubs but 4 goals in 6 games against Leagues One and Two clubs.

Against the likes of Morecambe, Rochdale and Oxford (and Burton in a friendly), whilst I wouldn’t quite say lethal in front of goal, when playing against these lower levels of pace, marking, organisation, quality, Joelinton has found his level in front of goal.

Two years of playing against Premier League teams (and Championship ones in cups), the soon to be 25 year old finding it very difficult, almost impossible, to give Newcastle any goal threat.

Yet in 12 days time, I have no doubt that Joelinton will line up against West Ham, as indeed he no doubt will in the vast majority of other Premier League matches this season. After all, when the club’s owner has personally made the decision and forced through the £43m purchase against the express advice of a top class manager (Rafa, not Brucey…), the NUFC Head Coach is hardly in a position to leave Joelinton out for long, not if he values his job anyway.

I see Newcastle fans on Twitter and elsewhere online claiming that Joelinton contributes in many other ways. Well, he does the odd decent thing but rarely is that thing anywhere near threatening the opposition goal. Indeed, I look at his record in getting assists since arriving at Newcastle United, only 4 in 69 Premier League appearances. He got five in 28 Bundesliga appearances the season before signing for NUFC, not great but far better than he has done these past two years, suggesting even more that Joelinton simply can’t cope with and be effective in the Premier League.

It is yet another situation where Mike Ashley has massively damaged Newcastle United.

His ego won’t allow Newcastle to flog his £43m dream signing back to a Bundesliga club for around £10m, maybe £12m, which is his true value. A striker who in his best ever previous league season had / has scored 8 goals in the weak Austrian league, a forward who never had the attributes to succeed in the Premier League.

At a normal club, Newcastle United / Mike Ashley would have already moved on Joelinton, probably some time ago, used the sale money towards say somebody like Joe Willock, who playing in midfield and scored in his final seven games for NUFC on loan, in April / May 2021.

The fact that Joelinton and not Joe Willock will be starting for Newcastle United when the Premier League kicks off, tells you everything you need to know. Something that feeds into the scenario that all but guarantees a grim relegation battle.

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