The Athletic share ‘positive’ Lazaro update – & reveal 2 reasons Bruce wants to sign Bentaleb

Steve Bruce’s believes NUFC new boy Nabil Bentaleb will bring ‘composure’ and ‘athleticism’ to our midfield, according to The Athletic.

The Schalke midfielder’s loan move to St James’ Park has now been confirmed and, elsewhere on the transfer front, Chris Waugh has shared a promising update on a potential deal for Valenitno Lazaro.

RB Leipzig appear to be in the mix for the Inter Milan wing-back, however his latest piece for The Athletic reveals that talks between Max Hagmayr (Lazaro’s representative) and Newcastle have been “positive” – despite the agent revealing there’s “no agreement yet” just last night.

Waugh reports that Lazaro is “assessing his options” after interest from RB Leipzig, but insists that discussions are continuing with Newcastle United.

Back to Bentaleb, The Athletic’s latest piece on the 25-year-old midfielder is well worth a read, not only giving an insight into the former Spurs talent’s temperament, but his style of play and likely role at Newcastle United.

Here’s a snippet from Chris Waugh’s insightful piece on the Algerian international:

Steve Bruce has made little secret of his desire to recruit a midfielder this month — Ki Sung-yueng is surplus to requirements and will be offered around before the end of the window — and ideally he wanted someone with previous Premier League experience. 

Jonjo Shelvey and Isaac Hayden are Bruce’s first-choice midfield pairing at the moment, while brothers Sean and Matty Longstaff have also impressed in recent weeks. But Bruce has experimented with a 3-5-2 formation and Bentaleb’s characteristics would suit playing in such a framework.

The 35-cap Algeria international is comfortable operating anywhere across the middle — be it as a lone holding presence, or in a two or a three-man midfield — and his versatility could prove extremely useful. According to Understat, despite wearing the No 10 shirt at Schalke, he has started only three matches as an attacking midfielder, as opposed to 40 in a deep-lying role and 42 as an orthodox midfielder.

With five goals in 32 league games during his first season in Gelsenkirchen, Bentaleb secured a permanent move by February 2017, with Schalke paying a reported €22.5 million. Injury problems blighted him throughout the 2017-18 campaign, when he scored four times in 16 Bundesliga appearances, and he remained a first-team regular until March 2019 — even if he never really convinced and was seen during the latter part of Domenico Tedesco’s reign as being unreliable — when he was demoted to the Under-23s for “disciplinary reasons”.

In total, Bentaleb was suspended on four separate occasions by his club for misdemeanours believed to include tardiness and unpermitted absences from training. In the end, David Wagner even banned him from the dressing room on match-days.

The parting of ways appeared inevitable this month and Bruce views Bentaleb’s composure and athleticism as key characteristics which will give his side a point of difference. Newcastle have averaged the lowest possession in the Premier League this season at 33.4 per cent and Bruce hopes adding players with Bentaleb’s quality over the upcoming windows will help him to evolve their counter-attacking style.

So, it seems like he’s a risk but a low-cost one that could be worth taking if he finds his best form at St James’ Park.

Let’s hope Lazaro joins him before long – although it’s tough to say whether he’ll be leaving Inter for Bruce or a return to the Bundesliga as things stand.

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About Olly Hawkins

Olly has been a Junior Magpie from birth. As a season ticket holder and avid Newcastle United fan - he eats, sleeps and breathes all things NUFC.

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