It wasn’t long ago Javier Manquillo was deemed a Newcastle United flop and a player fans would’ve happily waved off if a club had come in to sign him.
Looking back to our first away day of the 2018/19 season, he was torn apart by Cardiff’s Josh Murphy, looking unfit and out of his depth at both ends of the pitch.
18 months later, I’d argue he’s not only the club’s best and most reliable right-back, but our most improved player – meaning a new contract seems the least he deserves given his current deal is due to expire this summer.
His good form started in the second half of the 2018/19, with his solid display and brilliant assist (for Salomon Rondon) playing a key role in our crucial win at Huddersfield.
He didn’t always play for the remainder of the season, but when he did the Spaniard was doing a very good job under the radar, putting in rock solid displays in wins over Burnley, Southampton and Leicester.
Despite his late upturn in form under Rafa, the 25-year-old’s future under Bruce looked in doubt given Emil Krafth was signed over the summer and DeAndre Yedlin was immediately brought back into the side when fully fit.
That said, he’s now started almost every game since late November when he’s been fit – and you can see why.
He looks fitter, more switched on and our most reliable option at right-back, with him no longer beaten easily by wingers (remember how he pocketed Zaha back in December?), quick into the tackle and far more capable on the ball than the wasteful Yedlin and unnatural Krafth.
Hats off to him for turning things around and long may it continue.
Newcastle United’s most improved player and a someone who surely deserves a new deal this summer as a result!