The Shields Gazette’s Liam Kennedy has shared a damning assessment of Schalke loanee Nabil Bentaleb – feeling he’s made our midfield worse, not better.
Kennedy has also criticised his tendency to lose possession cheaply, feeling he’s not looked mobile enough, has added ‘very little’ and has shown little sign of improvement after initially looking like a player who’d not kicked a ball for a year (after being banished to Schalke’s reserves before arriving).
It was reported soon after his arrival that we’d have the ‘option’ to sign Bentaleb for £8.5m this summer – a fee that seemed VERY reasonable for a talented player with Premier League experience – however his form so far has been far from convincing.
Here’s what he’s had to say during his latest piece for the Shields Gazette on our three January signings:
‘Former Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Bentaleb has added very little to the Magpies’ midfield. In fact, there’s an argument to say he’s made it worse.
‘He looked like a player who had not kicked a ball for a year when he turned up, and has done little to show any significant sign of improvement.
‘By no means am I not saying there is not a good player in there, but Newcastle did not see it.
‘All they saw was someone who gifted the ball to the opposition on far too many occasions and sat so deep he may as well have been in the back three/four.‘
His comments may seem a little harsh given he’d not played first-team football since last April before arriving on Tyneside, but you have to face the facts when this is essentially his audition for a potential permanent move this summer.
It’s been reported that we’ll be able to sign him for £8.5m this summer, however his hopes of extending his stay seem slim at best as things stand.
His performances needed to improve, but he may never get the chance to show Bruce what he’s capable of given the season remains at risk of being called off completely.
There’s clearly a talented player in there, but it’s not looking great for Bentaleb..