Leipzig gem, Ligue 1 duo, Sassuolo talent and Brighton star: 5 midfielders Newcastle could sign

The central midfield position is one of our strengths. During the second half of the season, there was genuine competition for places and it might not be high on the priority list. However, if we manage to move enough players on, there could be a chance to bring in another player to compete. 

We either need to sign a playmaker, one capable of creating chances with regularity. Or, sign a quality holding midfielder, capable of progressing the ball, while also breaking up the play. Bruno Guimaraes can play that role, but he would be better suited to playing as a box-to-box midfielder in our current side.

Below, we list five potential targets in central midfield. 

Yves Bissouma – Brighton

Brighton will be sick of us if we go back to sign another player after taking Dan Burn and Dan Ashworth from them. However, Yves Bissouma has been linked to the club previously and he fits the profile of midfielder we would be looking for. The main issue with him is that he has some legal issues, which makes a move less than ideal.

On the positive side, he is entering the final year of his contract and that means that he should be available for a reasonable price. He has been an excellent player for Brighton since joining. Bissouma is excellent at winning the ball back and he can build the play from deep.

The Seagulls’ midfielder averages 3.11 tackles and 2.34 interceptions per ninety minutes, ranking in the 87th and 86th percentiles among midfielders. This shows that he is very good at winning the ball back. 

A destroyer type wouldn’t be a natural fit for Eddie Howe’s midfielder, but Bissouma is more complete. His pass completion of 89.7% and average of 1.32 dribbles completed per ninety minutes put him in the top 10% among midfielders. He would be a great signing to play in the number six role in our midfield. 

Cheick Doucoure – Lens

Another player to be linked in some quarters is Cheick Doucoure from Lens. It makes a lot of sense as he shares a lot of qualities with his international team-mate Bissouma.

He would be an excellent choice to play the number six role. The French market is one that the club do keep a close eye on, so he will be on our radar at the very least.

At the age of 22, he is very young and has the potential to develop into a Champions League calibre player. Lens will want a premium fee, but they are a club that would be unlikely to demand an unreasonable amount.

Doucoure averages 6.26 progressive passes and 6.87 progressive carries per ninety minutes. He is capable of breaking lines in the middle third and putting his team into promising attacking positions. For both stats, he ranks in the top 10% among midfielders, like Bissouma.

When breaking down play, Doucoure is capable, with an average of 2.63 tackles and 2.26 interceptions per ninety minutes. For these, he ranks in the 70th and 84th percentiles among midfielders. 

One advantage he holds over Bissouma is his creativity. Doucoure averages 2.63 shot creating actions per ninety minutes. He is on his way to being a complete midfielder and it is only a matter of time before he joins a big club.

Maxime Lopez – Sassuolo 

Sassuolo have some excellent players and they are a team worth scouting regularly. They give chances to young players and some flourish at the Serie A club.

Maxime Lopez came to the club from Marseille and he is now very comfortable on the ball.

He is one of the best ball progressors across Europe, based on his underlying numbers. Lopez averages 6.28 progressive passes and 6.46 progressive carries per ninety minutes. This places him in the top 10% when compared to other midfielders for both. 

He is used to having plenty of the ball, with an average of 78.73 passes per ninety minutes, with a high success rate of 91.7%.

One issue with Lopez is that he isn’t the most comfortable at breaking up the play, which means he would be better utilised as one of the box-to-box midfielders. He is a player worth keeping an eye on, due to his comfort in possession, but he wouldn’t be a natural fit for what we need this summer. 

Amadou Haidara – RB Leipzig

Like others on the list, Haidara has been linked with the club.

He is one of the best midfield talents in Europe and it would be a remarkable coup to sign him. There are rumours about a release clause in his contract, which would make any agreement easier. 

Haidara scores well across all facets of the midfield game, which suggests he will develop into a complete midfielder with more experience. He is an excellent ball progressor, with an average of 6.61 progressive passes and 5.38 progressive carries per ninety minutes. 

He is a capable ball winner, with an average of 2.16 blocks, 2.46 tackles and 1.11 interceptions per ninety minutes. Haidara is also very capable when competing aerially with an average of 1.87 successful aerial duels per ninety minutes. 

Jean Onana – Bordeaux 

This is a wildcard suggestion, but Jean Onana has been a ray of sunshine in a very difficult season for Bordeaux in Ligue 1. They were relegated and will now be at risk of losing one of their best players on the cheap. 

Onana is an exciting midfield talent capable of playing the number six role. He is an elite ball winner and scores very highly across all defensive stats. This is partially due to the strength of the team he is playing in. 

He averages 24.81 pressures, 3.78 tackles, 3 interceptions and 2.21 blocks per ninety minutes. Further to this, he averages 2.51 successful aerial duels per ninety minutes. Onana is excellent at winning the ball back. 

Meanwhile, his pass completion of 80.8% is impressive considering he is playing in a weak team with low ball retention. 

Onana would be a project, but he has the tools to be an excellent number six. It would be an exciting signing for the long term.

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