Ah, central midfield, where we have one person who can play football but can’t run and a host of others who can run quite well…but kick the ball quite poorly!
And then there’s Joelinton, playing now as a kind of number 8 under Howe, who looks better and better the deeper he starts on the pitch.
It’s safe to say some reinforcements in these areas would be appreciated, and here’s a couple suggestions from myself for both ball-winning and playmaking midfielders.
Boubacar Kamara – Marseille
Twenty-two-year-old Kamara is a player we’ve been after for a while but may not previously have had the ambition or capital to turn that interest into anything more. Now, of course, that’s changed; have you heard that we’re loaded these days? In all seriousness, Kamara is the kind of player we’ve needed for a while, someone who can eat up ground in the middle of the park and offer protection for the back line, but who isn’t as limited on the ball as Hayden or Longstaff. And, at 22, Kamara shows a surprising level of maturity to his game. Recently linked with the DM-desperate Man U, signing Kamara would not only be a further signal of our intent, but also a pat on the back for our long-standing scouting team.
Florian Grillitsch – Hoffenheim
Henceforth known as FG for the rest of this write-up, Florian Grillitsch is a player who relies as much on his knowledge and reading of the game as he does on his physicality, more in the Jorginho mould than the Kante. The biggest thing he could bring to the Newcastle midfield is his levelheadedness; FG isn’t one to bomb forward and leave his team open to the counterattack. Couple that with a metronomic, reliable passing game and he would bring a much-needed sense of control to our usually all-action style of play.
Florian Neuhaus – Borussia Mönchengladbach
Less than a year ago, German international Neuhaus was being linked with most of Europe’s largest clubs, but since then Gladbach have struggled and Neuhaus’s stock has fallen a little. At the time of writing, the German outfit, Champions League regulars in the last few seasons, see themselves 2 points outside the relegation zone and struggling financially. Neuhaus, though, remains a top-level player and a sellable asset. A progressive passer capable as playing as an 8 or a 10, Neuhaus could provide a crucial link between attack and defence and add some creativity to our much-maligned midfield.
Donny van de Beek – Manchester United
In 2019, van de Beek was nominated for the Ballon d’Or as Ajax took Europe by storm; in early 2022, he sits behind McTominay, Fred and Matic in the Man U pecking order. It’s an eternal mystery as to why Donny isn’t getting much game time, but anyone who watched him during his time in the Netherlands (or for the Netherlands) can attest that there’s an energetic, attack-minded player just waiting to be revived. With a playing style similar to that of Palace-loanee Connor Gallagher, Donny would bring movement from the middle, particularly off the ball. With him so often overlooked at Old Trafford and the Manchester outfit keen on bringing in another midfielder, a loan move could seemingly suit all parties.
Those are just four names who I think would improve our midfield. In truth, there’s many, many more than I could have named: Ruben Neves, Arambarri, McKennie, Rabiot, Ramsey, Elneny, Bennacer, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Zakaria, Marc Roca, Alex Witsel, and others.
But what do you think? Let me know in the comments, and join me in praying we bring in reinforcements sooner rather than later.