Is signing Alan Judge a risk worth taking for Newcastle United?
Rafa Benitez has been frustrated in the transfer market since the season started, but Newcastle look to be active once more, as they close in on the signing of Brentford’s Alan Judge. This deal has emerged from nowhere, as indeed have several deals at Newcastle this summer. They are being quick and decisive in their moves, which is refreshing for a club who desperately needed a squad overhaul. The general consensus is that this will be a good deal for the club, as they attempt to add more Championship know-how to their squad.
Although the clubs have yet to agree a fee for the midfielder, The Evening Chronicle report that a deal is at an advanced stage. The fee could be as little as £2-3 million as Judge has just one year left on his Brentford contract, which reduces the risk on Newcastle’s part. There have been some questions about the move for Judge, as he suffered a double leg break in April and is unlikely to return to action until November. Moreover, there are no guarantees he will make a full recovery and be able to play at the level he was before the injury. However, for the price, it is a gamble worth taking for Newcastle.
Last season, he was voted in the Championship team of the year, despite his injury. Newcastle recently loaned out Siem de Jong and need some more creativity in the squad, which is why Judge is being targeted. He has been one of the best in the Championship in that regard over the past two seasons, totalling an impressive 24 assists. During the 2015/16 campaign, he was given a more freedom to attack and added goals to his game, scoring 14 times for Brentford.
Judge is capable of playing a number of positions in the midfield and with Benitez’s preference to rotate, he will be expected to play all of them at various stages for Newcastle. His best position is the number ten role, as he is given the freedom to score and create. He can also be used in central midfield or on the left wing.
He is an exciting player to watch, who played a vital role in Brentford successive top half finishes in the Championship. The midfielder likes to get on the ball and dictate the play, with his passing range. He is effective when he runs with the ball and possesses the ability to beat players. These are qualities that Newcastle have been lacking in their first four matches. Benitez has recognised that and is bringing in one of the best in the Championship to carry out that role, which only reaffirms Newcastle’s status as favourites for the league.
It will be fascinating to see how Judge fits into the Newcastle team if he does join. Benitez has a number of attacking options at his disposal, but Judge brings something different to the squad. The Spaniard is going to rotate regularly throughout the season and that will mean that Judge won’t be given the same importance that he received at Brentford. He was the key player for the Bees last season and thrived as a result. At Newcastle, he will have to earn a regular starting berth.
There are plenty of risks attached to this deal, most of which revolve around Judge’s current injury status. Brentford have regularly stated that they hope Judge will make a full recovery, but there are no guarantees. He needs to be brought back slowly and eased back into competitive action. In that sense, Newcastle will be a better place for him, as they have a big squad and won’t need to rush him back.
At Brentford, he has been vital to their success and there may have been a temptation to ask too much of him too soon. Regular watchers of Brentford last season expected Judge to move to a Premier League club this summer. That was made impossible due to his injury, but a move to Newcastle still represents a huge step up and it will be a great test for him if the deal does go through.
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