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‘Joelinton to leave Newcastle United once Joe Willock signing completed?’

1 month ago
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Joelinton will turn 25 on Saturday, the day before the Premier League season kicks off.

According to the news and reports of the past 48 hours, Joe Willock is set to sign for Newcastle United ahead of the weekend kick-off.

Widely reported that a deal has been agreed between the two clubs, with an initial fee of around £22m, with future add-ons that could take it up to a final £25n outlay.

Assuming this goes ahead as outlined above, I have to ask the question: ‘Will Joelinton leave Newcastle United once this Joe Willock signing completed?’

I ask the question for a number of reasons but mostly because I just don’t see a viable scenario where Joelinton can still remain, especially from Mike Ashley’s point of view.

I think this is of relevance / interest for the debate, going back to what Steve Bruce said (see below) on the signing of Joelinton back on 23 July 2019:

“The kid’s got an exciting time ahead of him. He’s a smashing young player and we’re obviously delighted to get him. It’s been going on for a little bit now, so to get him is great for everybody.

“He’s got everything that a modern-day player wants. He’s big, strong and athletic, and of course he’s got age on his side too which is vitally important.

“He’s learned the history and wanted it (the number nine shirt), and that’s always a big shirt to fill. But in his eyes, it was ‘bring it on – it’s what I’m here for’.

“He’s risen to that challenge, and I’m sure he will be a big, big favourite of the supporters. He’s got an incredible work-rate about him, he’s got a really good humility about him, and all the attributes a top striker needs.”

When you read through that above from Steve Bruce, it would be difficult to have been more wrong about a player…the fact that the £43m Brazilian’s purchase was announced only six days after Bruce’s own arrival says a lot as well.

Steve Bruce has claimed since then, on many occasions, that all signings have been made only on his say so, yet above he admits the transfer had been in the pipeline for sometime. Indeed, in the days that followed Bruce and Joelinton arriving, Mike Ashley launched his embarrassing attack on Rafa Benitez via a statement (supposed interview!) that The Mail published, revealing that Rafa had blocked a deal to buy Joelinton for £43m back in February 2019 because he didn’t think he was good enough and worth nowhere near that astonishing figure, especially when his best ever previous league season had been eight goals in the weak Austrian league. Ashley ridiculed Benitez in his Mail piece, his central piece of evidence that the Spaniard had been so stupid to not agree to the club investing £43m in the Brazilian. Which then of course led to Mike Ashley forcing Rafa Benitez out, so that he (Ashley) could then take back personal charge of which players were signed, waiting until the new patsy / stooge (Steve Bruce) was appointed before then completing the Joelinton deal.

To have the club’s owner so publicly responsible for such a disastrous signing, a player that cost more than twice as much as the previous club record, has proved a disaster these past two years and difficult to see a way out of this, though perhaps that is to end.

As Steve Bruce’s words underline above when the Brazilian arrived, never for one second did Mike Ashley imagine that only a year later he would be forced into agreeing to a £20m purchase of a new number nine to replace Joelinton, a number nine in Callum Wilson who would turn 30 halfway through his second season.

Mike Ashley forcing through the purchase of a 22 year old Brazilian striker for £43m who he was convinced would be scoring goals and soaring in value to give massive future profit…instead the reality was two Premier League goals in 38 appearances in his first season at Newcastle. Steve Bruce even admitting in public that Ashley’s superstar goalscoring centre-forward was actually neither of those things, not a natural goalscorer and not even a centre-forward, instead somebody who preferred to play wide left and not even that keen on getting into the box – doing most of his ‘work’ away from the danger area.

The second season for Joelinton showed minimal improvement, if any.

With Newcastle United in serious relegation trouble and in the midst of a horrendous run of form that brought only two wins in twenty one games, Joe Willock arrived on loan.

Joelinton had started 11 of the opening 16 Premier League games but was to then be named in the starting eleven of only 11 of the final 22. The signing of Joe Willock a significant factor in that, as to accommodate the Arsenal loan player in the side, somebody had to be left out. Though amazingly Steve Bruce still only named Willock in his team in 11 of the 17 games after he arrived. Whether that was under orders from Mike Ashley to still keep playing Joelinton enough times so that the NUFC owner wouldn’t lose even more face (in Ashley’s opinion) for his disastrous signing.

The net result of course was that despite Bruce’s shoddy treatment of Joe Willock, the Arsenal loan man produced a stunning return. Willock scoring in all of his final seven Newcastle appearances and breaking Premier League records, what isn’t mentioned though and makes the achievement even more outstanding, is that in three of these seven matches Steve Bruce didn’t pick Joe Willock in his starting eleven – though Joelinton DID start in all three of these matches against Spurs, West Ham and Liverpool. All three games Willock came on to save Newcastle by scoring the goals that produced two draws and a win, instead of two defeats and a draw.

Joe Willock has scored seven goals in his last seven appearances from midfield, compared to Joelinton with six goals from 69 PL appearances playing most of those games as a striker.

Another interesting comparison that sadly sums up even more just what a disaster Mike Ashley buying Joelinton was…just look at how many goals the Brazilian has been directly involved in, since he arrived at Newcastle United:

Joelinton directly involved in 10 goals (scoring 6 and 4 assists) out of a total of 84 PL goals Newcastle United have scored during his time at the club. Joelinton directly involved in 11.9% of those PL goals.

Callum Wilson has been directly involved in 17 goals (12 scored and 5 assists) out of a total of 46 PL goals NUFC have scored during his time at the club. Wilson directly involved in 36.9% of those PL goals.

With Salomon Rondon he was directly involved in 18 goals (11 scored and 7 assists) out of a total of 42 PL goals Newcastle scored during his time at the club. Rondon directly involved in 42.8% of those PL goals.

Mike Ashley was at least pragmatic enough to accept that if he didn’t allow £20m to be spent on Callum Wilson, Newcastle had zero reliable goalscorers and would be in massive risk of relegation. Especially seen as his also ridiculous, though cheaper, signing of Andy Carroll (one PL goal in two years) had proved an abysmal failure.

Now it appears that pragmatism / reality is striking again for Mike Ashley. A squad totally reliant on Callum Wilson’s goals is a massive risk, especially with the striker’s injury record that includes managing only 23 of 38 PL starts last season for NUFC. Ashley allowing a £25m investment in Joe Willock is NOT something he wanted to do but understands at least how massively dangerous not signing him could / would be. One thing for sure, if / when £25m is paid for Willock, the plan is most definitely not for Steve Bruce to leave him on the bench again.

Looking at how Newcastle United will line up, we are talking five at the back, two central midfielders and two other players as well as Callum Wilson.

That leaves two spaces for players who get forward, three at the very most. Depending on whether Joe Willock is played as one of those two central midfielders or not. If Steve Bruce insists on still playing two defensive midfielders from a choice of Hayden, Sean Longstaff and Hendrick, rather than including Joe Willock as one of the two choices, only room for one other attacking minded player to help support Wilson.

To put it simply, Callum Wilson starts when fit, as does Allan Saint-Maximin, so will Joe Willock if / when he signs. There may be one other attacking / support role if Willock is one of the two central midfielders, which then surely sees Miguel Almiron as someone who has to play as the next choice.

Dwight Gayle has done enough in pre-season to remind us that unless another striker is signed, he is the cover for Callum Wilson.

In terms of attacking support players, I think pre-season has rubber stamped the fact that surely Ryan Fraser also has to be seen as ahead of Joelinton in terms of use to the team.

The reality is that if indeed Joe Willock is to come in, Joelinton has no place in the team and indeed surely will be at least a couple of steps from the team in the pecking order.

Can Mike Ashley stand by and see his £43m superstar sitting on the bench every week, a very public reminder of his disastrous intervention in NUFC’s recruitment?

I think not. Once Joe Willock is through the door, I think we will quickly see an announcement of Joelinton heading back to the Bundesliga, on an initial loan deal, which then also prevents any extra embarrassment in the short-term for Mike Ashley if he was seen to be taking a £30m loss on his superstar investment if sold at this point, with Joelinton probably having a realistic value of around £10m-£12m.

In an ideal world, Joelinton moving out would then also see Newcastle bring in a striker, almost certainly on loan, who can help give insurance if Wilson misses any number of games.

Newcastle United are at a critical point now and the same can be said for Joelinton, the soon to be 25 year old needs to be heading straight back to Germany once Willock arrives, hopefully allowing him to kickstart his failing career and just possibly Newcastle United might get £20m or so back for the Brazilian next summer, if he impresses on loan in the meantime with a Bundesliga club.

Newcastle United Official Announcement – 23 July 2019:

Newcastle United have completed the permanent signing of forward Joelinton from TSG 1899 Hoffenheim for an undisclosed club record fee.

The 22-year-old becomes the Magpies’ first signing of the summer, putting pen to paper on a six-year deal which will keep him at St. James’ Park until the summer of 2025.

The Brazilian frontman will wear the coveted number nine shirt for United, and could make his bow for the club in Saturday’s pre-season friendly at Preston North End.

Joelinton began his career at Sport Recife in his homeland, making his first team debut at the age of 16 and netting three times in 12 outings before his move to the Bundesliga in June 2015.

A year after joining Hoffenheim, he joined Rapid Wien on loan for two seasons, where he went on to net 21 goals in 79 appearances during a productive spell in the Austrian capital.

On his return to the PreZero Arena, Joelinton established himself in the German side’s attack, where his 11 goals in 35 games – including one in the Champions League, against Lyon – helped Hoffenheim secure a ninth-placed finish last term.

“I’m really happy to be here,” said Joelinton. “I know it’s a large investment that the club has made in me, and that comes with a huge responsibility.

“I’m highly motivated and hope to give back on the pitch.”

Head coach Steve Bruce added: “The kid’s got an exciting time ahead of him. He’s a smashing young player and we’re obviously delighted to get him. It’s been going on for a little bit now, so to get him is great for everybody.

“He’s got everything that a modern-day player wants. He’s big, strong and athletic, and of course he’s got age on his side too which is vitally important.

“He’s learned the history and wanted it (the number nine shirt), and that’s always a big shirt to fill. But in his eyes, it was ‘bring it on – it’s what I’m here for’. He’s risen to that challenge, and I’m sure he will be a big, big favourite of the supporters. He’s got an incredible work-rate about him, he’s got a really good humility about him, and all the attributes a top striker needs.”

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