Newcastle fan and 90-Minute-Cynic Michael Chapman gives his opinion on the latest Newcastle transfer rumours.
It is inevitable, or so the papers say, Georginio Wijnaldum will be a Newcastle player come the start of the 2015-16 Premier League season. It is all but a done deal with negotiations ongoing with the player. No transfer fee has been mentioned, and only as of Wednesday has PSV agreed publicly that a bid has been placed. But, of course, it is a “done deal”.
But lets say the rumors are true, as well as those about Moussa Sissoko being looked at by bigger clubs. Clubs with more realistic Champions League opportunities like, say Liverpool. What kind of player is Wijnaldum, could he fill a hole left by a departing Sissoko, or is he a totally different type of midfielder?
Well, as per usual I enjoy a good stat, even though it doesn’t ever tell us the whole picture. As a matter of a fact I feel too many rely too heavily on stats as guarantors of production and success. That said statistics are a handy signpost, pointing us in the direction of where a player may go. I’ve compared transfer target Wijnaldum with potentially the most similar player in Moussa Sissoko, but also with two other Newcastle players. Jack Colback, a central midfielder and perhaps the least like the Dutch midfielder. Also, Remy Cabella, a player that has been used in both wide attacking midfield positions and also sparingly in attacking central role.
Bearing in mind that only Sissoko and Wijnaldum’s statistics are indicative of players who have had consistency in club and league during these two seasons, it seems as if the two are most comparable. So would the loss of Sissoko, being replaced by Wijnaldum, be a strain on Newcastle’s ambitions of improvement? It depends, as always, on the intangibles.
Moussa Sissoko is well known by his moodiness and temper during his time on Tyneside, earning nine yellows and four reds in only 34 matches played in 2014. Of those five cards were for bad tackles and two for verbal abuse. On the flip side Wijnaldum, according to two different statistics sites, has received only 1 card (yellow) since August of 2014.
Many Newcastle supporters, myself included, question the occasions when the captaincy has been handed to Sissoko, whereas Wijnaldum is no doubt a leader on the pitch. Something the club has sorely missed when Fabricio Coloccini is unable to be on the pitch. Cheik Tiote, another captaincy option missed a lot of last season due to injury. Not that the Dutch player would be given the armband straight away, but having another player leading by example on the pitch surely can’t hurt.
Something that may well be important when trying to land the player’s signature is the camaraderie between “Gio” and the other dutch players Siem De Jong and Daryl Janmaat. The right back has been rumoured this week to have turned in his transfer request after just one fantastic season with the club. If signing Wijnaldum, a talented midfielder certain to bring quality to the club, means keeping Janmaat and helping to integrate De Jong then it seems like a must. Especially if we are to lose Moussa Sissoko to a “bigger club” this off season.