Saturday, February 4, 2023

Islam Slimani Or Nicolai Jørgensen: Who Would Be A Better Fit For Newcastle United?

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Bishwaraj Bhattacharyya
Former athlete. Now a journalist hoping to cover football no matter the league or country.

Newcastle United are still hopeful of making at least one signing before the end of the transfer window and two strikers are at the top of their list – Islam Slimani and Nicolai Jørgensen. Dutch outfit, Feyenoord have already rejected a bid from the Magpies and have valued Jørgensen at £20m. Slimani is priced similarly by Leicester City and United owner, Mike Ashley will have to break the club transfer record to land either of the two number nines.

Slimani arrived at the King Power Stadium in the summer of 2016 for a staggering £30m fee from Sporting CP. The price was well justified at the time with the Algerian netting an impressive 31 goals in 46 appearances in the 2015/16 season.

Leicester were just fresh off of a Premier League title win and were financially bolstered to chase such big-money targets. Their star striker, Jamie Vardy was heavily linked to many clubs and was on the verge of leaving the foxes. Slimani was brought in to replace him in order to continue their outstanding display in top-flight football.

However, ever since his arrival, the 29-year-old has failed to find regular game time. He has so far registered only 419 minutes of game time under Claude Puel this season and is ready to play regularly for a different side. 

Slimani can perform the role of a traditional number nine which is lacking in the Newcastle squad. Dwight Gayle and Joselu are versatile forwards and can be fielded alongside the Algerian in the final third.

Jørgensen has scored the ball 34 times in 61 appearances for De Kuip over the past two-and-a-half seasons and is one of the best forwards in the Eredivisie. He has been capped at international level for Denmark on 28 occasions netting the ball 8 times. He could not really set his feet with Bayer Leverkusen and served his timely mostly out on loan to FC Copenhagen and FC Kaiserslautern.

Both the strikers should be considered by Rafael Benitez but with Slimani already well established in the English game – is the better choice. Even with the Algerian’s limited minutes on the pitch for the Foxes, Benitez will not have to worry about the potential break-in period almost every player goes through whenever they enter the Premier League.

With just 14 games left to save themselves from relegation, the former Chelsea manager will have to make the hard choice within the next few days. Should he pick a striker who will have a higher wage bill and close to entering his 30s or should he opt for a player with no top-flight English football experience?

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