Sunday, November 27, 2022

Newcastle United Face Stumbling Block In Pursuit Of La Liga Playmaker: Big Blow For The Magpies?

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Abhinab Ghosh
A 26-year-old sports writer and an aspiring football coach who has road-tripped across the Scottish Highlands, but has never been to Wales. Sucker for cliff-hangers and catchy riffs. Known to be a grunger and not to be a stranger.

According to a recent print edition of AS (transcripted and translated by Sport Witness), Newcastle United have ‘already taken an interest’ in securing the signature of Real Betis midfielder Nabil Fekir this summer. However, the same source has also stated that the Spanish club are demanding ‘at least’ €50m for their prized asset which is yet to be matched by any of the player’s potential suitors including the Magpies.

It is believed that the French playmaker wants to join a team with European ambitions so Newcastle boss Steve Bruce will find it challenging to land him when the transfer window reopens later this year (via AS). The same report goes on to claim that Fekir is willing to wait for a top club to make a move for him as his preference is to stay in the La Liga with the hope of getting an offer from Real Madrid or Barcelona in the future.

Fekir’s Brilliant Debut Season In Spanish Football

If accurate, this latest development will be a massive blow for the Magpies and their ambitions in the summer transfer market. A player of Fekir’s quality would have been a statement acquisition for them amidst the problematic circumstances generated by the recent COVID-19 pandemic.

The Lyon-born attacker has enjoyed an impressive season at the Estadio Benito Villamarín after putting in several eye-catching performances as part of Rubi’s attack. He has banged in seven goals and provided six assists in 23 matches for Betis this term in all competitions which highlight his growing influence in the decisive third of the field.

Fekir has averaged 3.3 shots, 1.1 key passes and 3.3 dribbles per game in the La Liga this season (stats via whoscored). His stats showcase just how consistent he has been for the Spanish outfit going forward. The former Lyon attacking midfielder has also earned 23 senior caps for the French national side while netting two goals for his country in the process.

Arthur Melo of FC Barcelona duels for the ball with Nabil Fekir of Real Betis Balompie during the Liga match between Real Betis Balompie and FC Barcelona at Estadio Benito Villamarin on February 09, 2020, in Seville, Spain. (Photo by Aitor Alcalde/Getty Images)

If Fekir can maintain his high standards in the upcoming campaign, then he should have a good shot of being named in Didier Deschamps’ France squad for next year’s UEFA European Championship finals after the competition got postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

What Are The French Midfield Ace’s Best Attributes?

Fekir can use his pace and agility to make some penetrative runs with the ball in and around the opposition penalty area. He is a composed dribbler who has a low centre of gravity and outstanding ball-control that makes him such a constant menace for the opposition defenders. The Frenchman has transformed himself into a decent finisher in the final third and usually packs a lot of power and precision with his shots at goal. He is also quite tidy with his ball-distribution as evidenced by his pass completion rate of 82.1% in the La Liga this season (stats via whoscored).

Fekir’s Willingness To Play In Europe: Huge Blow For The Magpies?

Fekir would have not only added a lot of goals and creativity to the Newcastle attack but also enhanced the quality of Steve Bruce’s first-team significantly at St. James’ Park. His consistency in front of goal, coupled with his on-the-ball skillset, make him a worthy target for the Magpies to pursue before the start of the new season.

Hence, the French playmaker’s desire to move to a top European club will be a big blow for the Tyneside giants. Bruce will now have to decide whether to make a big-money offer for him with the hopes of convincing him to change his mind in the coming months. Otherwise, the safer option for the Newcastle boss would be to give up on Fekir and focus on recruiting some of his other targets during the summer transfer period.

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