As reported earlier today, Benitez has made the signing of an attacking midfielder one of his top priorities this summer – and the Chronicle have revealed that Salzburg’s Valon Berisha and Besiktas’ Oguzhan Ozyakup are being closely watched.
The report also states that Newcastle have ‘extensively’ scouted over 10 creative midfielders since the turn of the year, suggesting Benitez is keen to finally deliver a new number 10 during this summer’s transfer window.
Before we take a look at both Berisha and Ozyakup in a little more detail, here’s a snippet from today’s story in the Chronicle which confirms Rafa’s intention to sign a new No 10 this summer:
“It is understood that at least 10 creative midfielders have been scouted extensively over the past two months, with Red Bull Salzburg’s Valon Berisha someone Newcastle have followed for 18 months.
“The 25-year-old Kosovo international has scored 37 goals and provided 34 assists in 210 appearances for the Austrian champions during six seasons at the club.
“United have also been linked with Besiktas midfielder Oguzhan Ozyakup, whose deal expires this summer – and it is understood that Newcastle scouts have taken in a number of matches out in Turkey this season.”
Here’a a closer look at the pair:
Starting with Berisha – the diminutive midfielder born in Sweden yet capped at international level by both Norway and Kosovo.
The 25-year-old has enjoyed another impressive season with Red Bull Salzburg in the Austrian Bundesliga, racking up 11 goals and 9 assists in all competitions for the reigning champions thus far (8 goals and 12 assists last season).
His two goals away to Dortmund (see below) helped Salzburg seal a place in the Europa League quarter finals recently, with them set to play Lazio next Thursday.
He can operate out wide, in the number 10 role and in a deeper central midfield position.
The creative midfielder started his career at Arsenal but left for Besiktas back in 2012, having since gone on to bag 27 goals and 48 assists in 213 games in the Turkish Super Lig.
He’s 25-years-old and has made 32 appearances for Turkey. He’s often been played as a central midfielder for Besiktas, but his impressive number of assists (and skill – see below) suggest he could be used in a more advanced role.
Besiktas appear to be resigned to losing him this summer after failing to tie him down to a new contract, and whilst Everton have been linked, reports from Turkey this week claimed that we’ve now made ‘enquiries’.
— Fatih (@FatiHutchinson) March 20, 2018