Reports in Turkey are suggesting that Newcastle United may have won the race to sign Oguzhan Ozyakup on a free transfer from Besiktas. CNN Turkey along with Fotospor are just two outlets reporting the news that the former Arsenal player is set to join Rafa Benitez’s side.
It stems from a report by Radio Marca, as reported by Fotospor, that Benitez has met with Ozyakup’s agent Kees Vos and lawyer Alfredo Seco to conclude a deal. The talented midfielder is out of contract in the summer and therefore available on a free transfer and has been linked with a number of clubs across Europe.
The Turkish international will reportedly become Newcastle’s biggest earner as Benitez sees him as a potential Steven Gerrard type for the Magpies.
Benitez arguably got the best football out of Gerrard during his illustrious Liverpool career. It was under Rafa’s guidance that he wrestled the Champions League title from AC Milan in 2005. He also won the PFA Players Player Award in 2006 and Football Writers award in 2009.
Such an influential player is not present at Newcastle United. Whilst Jonjo Shelvey is a talented player, he will never have the same work-rate as Gerrard.
Ozyakup certainly fits the mould in that respect. The Turkish star is relentless on the field and an absolute 90 minute man.
The 25-year-old, who spent four years in the Arsenal academy, is a similar player to Gerrard. He is capable of playing in every area of central midfield. Ozyakup can play the deep holding role, breaking up play and helping defensively.
The Besiktas star can also play box-to-box, perhaps his best position. Ozyakup is equally adept in a number 10 role if called upon, playing on the shoulder of a striker and getting amongst the goals.
If Newcastle do get their man, as reported, then there is every chance he can develop into an important player under Benitez.
There are obvious parallels in style between Ozyakup and the Liverpool legend, but as yet the Turkish star is nowhere near his level. Perhaps playing under Benitez, who worked such wonders with Gerrard, can take Ozyakup to the next step.
Newcastle United summer transfer failure Alassane Pleaa scores hat-trick in 11-1 debut win
The Frenchman had a debut to remember for Borussia Monchengladbach.
Plenty of teams found themselves linked with the services of French forward Alassane Plea this summer. With good reason as well. The Nice attacker had scored 21 goals and assisted seven in the 2017-18 campaign.
One team who were reportedly keen on his signature were Newcastle United. As reported by The Chronicle, Newcastle had a £20 million bid for the player rejected in July. It appeared the Frenchman had become the club’s main striker target, an area Rafa Benitez was very keen to improve.
In the end, Newcastle had to settle for a swap deal involving Dwight Gayle that saw Salomon Rondon arrive at St James’ Park.
Plea meanwhile has just had an excellent start to life at his new club.
The Frenchman did leave Nice this summer. He joined Bundesliga side Borussia Monchengladbach for £22 million, meaning the Magpies were only £2 million short of his asking price.
Yesterday, he made his debut for Gladbach and promptly scored a hat-trick to announce himself to his new fans. It is certainly worth noting that Gladbach won the game 11-1 against Hastedt in the DFB Pokal. Plea was one of three men to score a hat-trick, along with Thorgan Hazard and Raffael.
Despite the fact it was a stroll in the park, Plea still has three goals from just one game at his new club.
Newcastle fans were left frustrated at their summer business, with failing to meet an asking price for Plea certainly a talking point.
If he can take his form in the cup into the Bundesliga, then Newcastle will be made to regret not spending £2 million more in the summer.
One winner, one loser from Newcastle’s draw to Cardiff
Newcastle United had an eventful afternoon in Cardiff and there will be mixed feelings about the final result. The game finished as a goalless draw after the visitors had a player sent off. Based on that, it would look to be a good result, but the Magpies missed a penalty in the last minute to take all three points.
It was an underwhelming display from Newcastle, as they were second best for long periods and didn’t offer as much of a goal threat as they did against Tottenham. Rafa Benitez will be disappointed by the performance and will have got that point across to his players at full-time. Below we discuss a winner and loser from the match at the Cardiff City Stadium.
Winner – Jamaal Lascelles
There was a lot of interest from other clubs during the summer, but Jamaal Lascelles stayed at St James’ Park and he should be set for another season of development under Benitez. He was clearly the stand out player for Newcastle, as he put his body on the line to earn an important clean sheet.
The captain won six aerial duels as he stood up to the physical assault deployed by Cardiff. In addition to his aerial dominance, he completed four ball recoveries and six clearances in an excellent defensive performance.
His pass success rate of 82% underlines his improvement on the ball over the last 12 months. Lascelles is quickly becoming one of the best English centre-backs and he will be crucial to Newcastle’s ambitions this season.
Loser – Kenedy
The Chelsea loanee is regarded as one of Newcastle’s most talented players, but there is a reason why he is in their squad rather than playing for his parent club. The Brazilian is capable of magical performances, but he is also capable of some very poor displays. Against Cardiff, his showing fell into the latter.
Kenedy finished the match with a pass success rate of 57%, which was very poor. His decision making throughout was disappointing and he was trying to do too much to make up for his lack of contribution.
During the final minutes, he shanked a free-kick into the wall, before tamely hitting the penalty into an easy area for the goalkeeper to save. Kenedy shouldn’t have been given the opportunity to take the spot-kick, as it was clear that he was having a poor afternoon. There will be better days for the Brazilian, but this was one to forget.
Yedlin’s injury update provides lucky escape for Newcastle board
DeAndre Yedlin was forced off with a knee injury during Newcastle’s opening Premier League match against Tottenham. However, the club have now confirmed that it isn’t serious and he is likely to resume training with his team-mates imminently.
The injury was concerning when viewed at full speed and a number of analysts speculated that the American could be facing a long spell on the sidelines. That would have been disastrous for Newcastle as he has emerged as the club’s first-choice right-back over the last 12 months. The only other options in the squad are an unconvincing Javier Manquillo and an inexperienced Jamie Sterry.
Rafa Benitez campaigned for investment during the summer transfer window, but the club refused to give him a fair budget based on their revenue. This has left the manager frustrated as a number of areas within the squad haven’t been strengthened and he is now short on quality and depth.
One of the areas that he has been left short in is full-back cover. There is no doubting that Yedlin and Paul Dummett have developed into good Premier League players since Benitez took over as manager. However, there is a lack of competition for them and one major injury could spell major problems for Newcastle.
The board were nearly punished during the first match of the season and there would have been little sympathy towards Mike Ashley if Yedlin’s injury was more serious. His continual lack of investment has made the club over-reliant on certain individuals.
Although there remain doubts over the squad depth, it is fantastic news for Newcastle that Yedlin is going to be back on the pitch in the very near future. He has developed a lot under Benitez and he could be set for a breakthrough year at full-back.
As an attacking threat, he has a key role to play at St James’ Park as he often races down the line to offer a passing option on the overlap. His pace is a dangerous weapon that Newcastle often try to utilise on the counter-attack. Although Yedlin’s end product is inconsistent, he is an important player for the Magpies in attack.
In addition to offering an outlet in the attacking half, Yedlin’s pace is great for the defence, as he can use it to recover from a mistake. This has been seen countless times since Newcastle’s return to the Premier League and it provides balance to the back four.
The USA international will be delighted that he won’t be missing a significant portion of the season, but this scare should serve as a reminder to the board. Benitez needs strength in depth, otherwise, he is one injury away from a crisis.
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