Newcastle United will be hoping for significant progress in the transfer market during the coming days and one player that continues to be linked to the newly-promoted team is Benfica midfielder Andreas Samaris. The Mirror reported last week that the Magpies were closing in on a £17.5 million transfer for the Greek international, after Rafa Benitez had been working on the deal for over a month. Meanwhile, O Jogo in Portugal reported yesterday that the deal was still in the works and that an agreement is likely.
Who is he?
The 28-year-old is a central midfielder that likes to dictate the tempo and get on the ball as much as possible. On occasion, he has been used as a centre-back, which shows that he is comfortable with the defensive and physical sides of the game, but he is best utilised in the centre of the park. Samaris possesses a winning mentality after winning the league title in his last four seasons (one in Greece and three in Portugal). For the Greek national team, he has had 28 caps and featured at the 2014 World Cup.
Where has he been?
His career started at Greek lower league team Panachaiki and he played for them for a total of three seasons, before moving to top division side Panionios. It was during his spell with the Superleague outfit that he made a name for himself, which resulted in a transfer to Olympiakos. He played in the Reds’ first team for only one season, but in that year, he earned his first Greek cap and won the top flight title.
It was his form during that campaign that led to a move to Benfica. He was excellent for two seasons in Portugal and although his most recent campaign wasn’t the best, he is in the prime of his career and remains respected across Europe.
What’s his style of play?
The Greek international is a good passer of the ball and rarely gives the ball away, which makes him a good player to have in the middle of the park. Last season, he finished with a pass success rate of 89.3% in the league. In addition to that, he is a good tackler and his physicality is one of his greatest assets, as he can use his power to win back the ball.
One worry with his defensive work is that he can pick up too many bookings – he was given three in only 141 minutes of Champions League football last season. As an attacking threat, Samaris poses a threat from range as he has a powerful long shot. This will be something to keep an eye on if he does move to Newcastle.
What does it mean for Newcastle?
During their successful Championship campaign, Newcastle did lack depth in midfield and they were reliant on Jonjo Shelvey for creativity from deep. This is an area that needs to be addressed, as competition is vital in the Premier League. Samaris would provide that for Shelvey, while his defensive qualities mean that he could strike up a good partnership with the one-time England international, if that is how Benitez chose to line-up.
This summer, the Magpies will be looking for players that can increase the talent in the squad and hope that it will lead to the current players raising their games. Samaris is a good example of an experienced player with a winning mentality, who can do just that. The rumoured price tag is high, but it would be a statement of intent and he is a player that should transition quickly to English football.
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