Friday, June 2, 2023

Newcastle United To Shift Focus To This Dutch Fullback: The Right Decision By Benitez?

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Subhayan Dutta
Subhayan used to be the Featured Columnist at The 4th Official. Completely immersed in football and almost all other sports on planet.

Newcastle United are reportedly shifting their focus from Arsenal’s Kieran Gibbs to Portuguese side Sporting Lisbon’s Marvin Zeegelaar, as the Magpies are unwilling to splurge the £15 million that Arsenal have asked for their full-back. The surprise new link could be a more affordable option for the Magpies given his cheap price tag.

Rafael Benitez could see a huge crisis arising on his left defensive flank gradually as his backup options look to leave St. James Park this summer. While the second choice left back Achraf Lazaar has already expressed his desire to leave the club following a terrible debut season in England since his move from Palermo, the other player, Massadio Haidara, saw his season slashed by half owing to repeated injuries.

And most of all, neither of them had enough potential to challenge Paul Dummett for a place. The 25-year-old Welshman has been one of Newcastle’s most consistent defenders throughout the season, and Benitez is seeking someone who could take his position with similar effect as and when needed.

The Arsenal man looked perfectly poised for the job given his experience in the Premier League playing for Arsenal, but it seems that the Magpies think of the price tag as too much for the player, who has struggled to topple over 31-year-old Nacho Monreal for that role.

Zeegelaar, on the other hand, is heavily linked with club primarily for the cheap £4.3 million that Sporting Lisbon are asking for him. And, the Spanish manager looks to gamble on the Dutch full-back, who has hardly impressed at the top level, like Kieran Gibbs.

A product of the famed Ajax academy, Zeegelaar took four years to break into the first team, which was followed by a move to Excelsior Rotterdam and a free transfer to RCD Espanyol’s junior side. His progress continued through loan stints with Turkish side Elazigspor and English side Blackpool, before he became a free agent.

His career took a turn when Portuguese side Rio Ave FC took him in 2014, and two impressive seasons there were enough to attract Sporting Lisbon. However, the Dutch enforcer never really had the quality to break into the first team and even in Liga NOS, he could manage 20 appearances last season.

His underwhelming displays have forced him to stay out of national colours even at 26. And a failure next season, when Newcastle would be desperate to survive the cut-throat competition, could be a huge blow for the club. Hence, a move for this player doesn’t make a lot of sense.

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