Newcastle United are having a dream season in the Premier League and seems to be set for a return to the UEFA Champions League next season. The last time they played in the competition was way back in the 2002/03 season, more than two decades earlier.
After a lot of highs and lows over the last twenty years, the Magpies finally seem to be en route to play in Europe’s biggest competition once again. They’re currently seated in third place in the Premier League and are looking primed for a flourishing finish to the Premier League campaign.
While Eddie Howe is focused on the current task at hand, he is also preparing for the future. Newcastle are well aware that they’ll need to significantly improve their squad with quality players to compete in the Champions League as well as fight for a Premier League top-4 finish next season. As a result, it appears they might’ve found a possible midfield target with former ties to the Premier League.
A summer move for Matteo Guendouzi?
The Magpies believe that they need more quality midfielders to improve their squad for next season. This could be because Eddie Howe’s been forced to play Brazilian forward Joelinton as a midfielder at times and persist with players like Sean Longstaff too.
Newcastle doesn’t really have any quality defensive midfielder right now and needs someone to unlock the abilities of Bruno Guimaraes too. It appears that they’ve found a potential partner for him. As per French outlet L’Equipe, Newcastle are in the race to sign Marseille midfielder Matteo Guendouzi in the summer.
However, they will face stiff competition from Aston Villa and West Ham United for the 24-year-old. It’s claimed that Villa are currently the frontrunners to sign Guendouzi, who Marseille are ready to sell and that the Villans are ready to pay around €40 million to sign him.
West Ham, on the other hand, are eyeing Guendouzi as a possible replacement for Declan Rice – who is likely to join a major Premier League club in the summer. Newcastle, however, are nonetheless in the race to sign him and could prove to be the most attractive option – due to their financial might and potential Champions League participation next season.
How can Guendouzi fit in at Newcastle United?
Guendouzi has plenty of experience having played in the Premier League with Arsenal, where he ended up having a string of controversies and earning the reputation of being a bit of a troublemaker.
The Frenchman was often involved in heated clashes with opposition players and was too aggressive for his own good, which irked Mikel Arteta. He was involved in some major controversy in 2020 in Arsenal’s loss to Brighton & Hove Albion in the Premier League.
The 24-year-old was accused of taunting the Brighton players for the wage disparity between them and what he earned at Arsenal. He boasted the superior salary of him and his Arsenal teammates in an effort of looking down on the Brighton players.
The moment Guendouzi's Arsenal career was over? 🤔— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) July 5, 2021
The midfielder didn't play a single game for the club after this full-time altercation with Neal Maupay in June 2020…pic.twitter.com/irxEdsbfUa
Not just that, but he also grabbed then-Brighton forward Neal Maupay by the throat towards the end – for which he escaped a ban. Soon after that, Guendouzi was sold by Arsenal. He could, however, make a return by joining Newcastle.
Guendouzi has evolved into an energetic, proactive midfielder who excels with his pressing and ball-winning abilities. He can play at the heart of Newcastle’s midfield in that no.6 role, protecting the backline and winning possession with his tackles.
While Guendouzi isn’t really one to contribute a lot of goals, he can move the ball forward really well and is disciplined with his distribution. Moreover, he excels in winning the ball in key areas and then orchestrating counter-attacking moves, which fits with Newcastle’s playing style.
The Frenchman’s arrival can also allow Guimaraes to play a more advanced playmaker role and Joe Willock in a no.8 role. Joelinton can play in the front three as a result, if needed, as well. While Guendouzi isn’t exactly a ‘world-class’ player yet, his hard-working ability and never-give-up mentality can be an ideal fit for Eddie Howe’s tactics and help add more depth to Newcastle’s midfield line.