Valentino Lazaro exclusive: Must-read as Austrian analyst reveals all about NUFC’s new no.23..

After Valentino Lazaro completed his move to Tyneside earlier today, we’ve been speaking to Football Radar’s Tim Armitage (@FussballTim_) – a man that knows Newcastle’s new no.23 more than most.

Here’s what Tim – who was a Austrian Bundesliga analyst from 2013-2019 – has had to say during our chat about the Inter Milan wide man:

1) Firstly, what are Valentino Lazaro’s strengths and weaknesses as a player?

“Lazaro’s strengths when I first started to watch him was his energy and his pace.

“He’s still got these attributes but his versatility to play either as a winger or more defensively has become a key strength to his game as he’s developed.

“When watching him for the Austrian national team, particularly over the last 12-24 months where he has been getting more starts and is now an important player, he can be quite a frustrating player to watch in the final third with his decision making not always the best.”

2) We often play a 5-2-2-1 formation. I’ve read a lot about his versatility, but where do you see him fitting into our system? Is his best position at wing-back or as a more advanced winger?

“Naturally, his versatility will give Bruce a couple more options, especially with Newcastle mis-firing in front of goal.

“I would personally use him as an attacking wingback on the right-hand side to allow him to get crosses to Joelinton in the middle but also to give Bruce an option to start more attacks from deep.

“However, if one of ASM or Almiron is missing, he could slot straight into a role on the wing.”

3) What did he do at Hertha Berlin to convince Inter Milan to spend £20m on him last summer?

Lazaro became a key player at Hertha during his time at the club and the move from Salzburg to the German Bundesliga was pretty seamless.

The ability for him to become such an integral part of the side in a position at the time which was still not seen as his strongest (fullback/wingback) goes to show the type of player he is.

Add on that he also continued his rise at international level, £20m was a fair price.

4) On the flip side, a few fans are a little concerned about the fact Inter Milan are letting him go just 6 months after signing him for big money. Why didn’t it work out for him under Antonio Conte?

Lazaro is an ambitious player and we should see it as a positive he wasn’t happy to be a bench-warmer who is only used in lower priority games.

It was also his first time outside of Austria and Germany, so naturally it was going to take him some time to get used to a completely different style of football and Conte also had his ‘favourites’ who he used ahead of Lazaro.

“I am aware that he made a couple of mistakes when he did get chance, but I genuinely believe it was just quite a big move for him to go to Inter.

“Expectations are a lot higher and potentially the pressure got to him a little bit as he knew he had to try and perform when given the limited opportunities.”

5) What is his attitude and work rate like? I’ve heard good things about his pace and ability on the ball, with Bruce calling his crossing “excellent”, but we’re a hard working team that rely on each player putting in 110%..

Lazaro does not shirk his defensive duties. Even when used further up the field he will track back and assist his fullback.

I certainly can’t see his work rate being an issue.

Off the field, Lazaro does care about his ‘image’ but I think his personality will suit the players around him and I’d be shocked if there were any issues.

6) His agent confirmed he opted to join us over current Bundesliga leaders RB Leipzig as he wanted to test himself in the Premier League. Do you think he’ll prove to be well suited to English football?

“I personally see that as a massive bonus for Newcastle.

“The fact that he could have gone back to where he is comfortable, with Leipzig also challenging for the title and in the Champions League just shows how up for trying the Premier League he is.

“I think we’ve seen a couple of recent examples from Austria (Sadio Mane and Naby Keita spring to mind) which makes me think he should have no issues.

“He’s also got plenty of experience at international level which will bode him well for life in the Premier League.”

7) If you could compare him to any other player in world football based on his style of play, who would it be?

I’ve seen links to Willian and I don’t think they are that far off but I’d say Willian is more of a trickier player than Lazaro is.

If anything he is more like Willian’s old teammate Juan Cuadrado, who can also play pretty much anywhere down the right hand side!

8) Finally, we have an ‘option to buy’ him for £20m this summer at the end of his loan deal. Do you think that could be good value for money in today’s market?

“Yes. He’s a versatile, international-level player with experience across multiple top divisions who is also in his mid-20’s, so £20m is very good value in my opinion.”

A big thanks to Tim for answering our questions today, with him giving us a brilliant insight into the 23-year-old’s style of play and persona.

Let’s hope Lazaro proves to be as good as he’s predicting!

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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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