As we approach the January transfer window, the one name being linked with a move to Newcastle United more than any other is Jetro Willems.
After recently returning to full training with Frankfurt, there’s been many calls for the club to bring him back next month, with him deemed to be ‘fully fit’ again after 10 months out.
He’s refusing to sign a new deal with the Bundesliga side by all accounts, meaning he’ll either leave for a cut-price fee in January or be available to sign for nothing.
I believe we’ll resist making a move for the Dutchman next month and instead sign him on a free next summer.
Why? Because I feel he won’t have enough time to truly prove his fitness to the club in time. After all, this is his second ACL injury. Yes he’s returned to training, but it may take a few glimpses of him in competitive action to convince us he’s ok and worthy of a fee and permanent deal on decent wages.
That’s why I see us waiting it out, allowing him to fully prove his fitness over the next six months and us to have him on a free when his Frankfurt deal expires next summer.
That way it could be a win-win. He knows the move he’s longing for is on the horizon should he stay fit and we know we’ll be getting a player who is 100% fit and free of charge – avoiding the extra risk and fee a January move could bring.
Given he’s rejected a new deal at Frankfurt and has told them he’ll be leaving at the end of the season either way, the other alternative is we sign him on a six-month loan deal next month and have the option to sign him in the summer should his knee hold up.
Who knows what will happen, however I can see Mike Ashley’s NUFC resisting a January fee and waiting it out – especially when we know he wants to come and Franfurt look resigned to losing him on a free.
This is us presuming we still hold genuine interest in the 26-year-old, however his impressive loan spell was almost certain to end in a permanent deal had he not suffered a serious injury, meaning assurances over fitness may be the only stumbling block.
After all, Jamal Lewis is our only fit left-back, with Paul Dummett’s injury issues continuing and Matt Ritchie not suited to this role now we’ve moved to a four-man defence.
We shall see. I see Willems returning, but think we’ll have to wait until next summer before he’s back in black and white.