It has been an exciting but exhausting transfer window for all of us. I think we are all glad to see the end of it, but it did end on a positive note when boyhood fan Dan Burn completed a late move from Brighton just minutes before the 11pm deadline.
A centre back was top priority for us, as we hadn’t signed one since the summer of 2018 and our current options have all regressed and it was a clear weakness.
This season, we have conceded 43 times in the Premier League. Only Norwich City have conceded more. It would be unfair to blame this entirely on the centre backs, but it has been clear that it is a weakness in the current squad. Jamaal Lascelles seems to have been impacted by injuries, while the rest of our options have regressed.
Although Dan Burn doesn’t have the profile we would have been hoping for in a new centre back, he has been performing well in the Premier League. He is certainly better than our current options and he represents an improvement to our starting eleven.
One of our big issues has been a lack of pace and mobility at the back. Burn won’t immediately bring these traits, but he is quick and turns well for a player of his size.
A quick look at Burn’s stats show that he will bring aggression and passing ability to the defence. We have been very passive when we don’t have the ball and Eddie Howe will want to fix that.
Burn averages 2.2 tackles and 2.41 interceptions per ninety minutes. It is worth stating that he has been playing as a left centre back in a back three. There is a greater need for one-on-one defending in this formation, with the wing-backs pushing further up the field. Burn has operated in a role that mixes the responsibilities of a centre back and left back. Although his role will be different on Tyneside, it shows his versatility.
For a player that is 6’7″, it is unsurprising that Burn is dominant in the air. He averages 4.27 successful aerial duels per ninety minutes. Jamaal Lascelles is good in the air, but the rest of our options can be susceptible against an aerial duel. Burn’s presence in the team should help with set pieces at both ends of the pitch.
Perhaps most importantly, he is comfortable on the ball. Burn may not be the best centre back with the ball at his feet, but he is certainly better than those currently at the club. He averages 3.19 progressive passes per ninety minutes, which ranks him in the 67th percentile among centre backs. Howe wants his team to build from defence and Burn is capable of carrying out those instructions.
There are a couple of concerns about Burn’s ability to adapt to life as a Newcastle player. He hasn’t had much experience in a back four in recent years. It is a change of role for him and there could be an adaptation period. However, he is an intelligent footballer, who has developed a lot under the tutelage of Graham Potter. There is reason to believe he can adjust quickly.
As he is returning to the North East, he will already understand what is required to play for Newcastle. The opportunity to represent his boyhood club could take his game to a new level.
It isn’t the most exciting signing, but it could be one that proves pivotal over the rest of the season.