Profiling Newcastle United transfer target Dennis Praet - who is he?
Newcastle United are being heavily linked with Sampdoria midfielder Dennis Praet and could be ready to make their move before the end of the transfer window. The Chronicle report that the Magpies do hold an interest in the Belgian, but they won’t be able to make a firm approach until they have seen unwanted players leave.
Rafa Benitez has spoken of his unhappiness with the club’s recruitment this summer and it is clear that he needs more additions before the deadline. The team have lost their opening two matches and they will be sleepwalking towards another relegation battle if they aren’t careful. They need to increase the talent levels of the squad and Praet seems to be one of the priority targets as we head into the closing stages of the summer window.
Where has he been?
The midfielder started his senior career at Anderlecht and it was there that he made a name for himself. They have an excellent youth academy and are willing to give the homegrown players a chance in the first team. Praet arrived as a teenager from Genk in 2010 and quickly made a name for himself, earning himself a debut just 16 months after joining the club.
At Anderlecht, he played over 100 matches for the first team and was scouted by some of the biggest clubs in Europe. In 2014, he managed to win the Belgian Golden Shoe, which is awarded to the best player in the Jupiler League for the previous calendar year.
Praet was reluctant to leave the Belgian club for a long time and turned down countless opportunities to test himself abroad until 2016. Last summer, he moved to Sampdoria for a fee of €10 million. It was a surprise to see him leave for one of the mid-table clubs in Serie A, but it was a recognition of the step up in standard from the Jupiler League. His first season in Italy was nothing to write home about, as the 23-year-old managed only one goal and one assist.
What is his style of play?
The Belgian is a technically gifted player, who can play as a central midfielder or further forward as a number ten. He is a tidy player, who reads the game well and an excellent ball retainer. His close ball control and low centre of gravity allow him to thrive when packed into a tight space. This will stand him in a strong position to do well in the Premier League.
If he does join Newcastle, he will give them a creative presence and that has been lacking during the opening two matches. His vision allows him to see passes that can open up defences and he has the skill to execute them. In addition to his impressive creative skills, Praet possesses a good strike from range and can chip in with goals.
There are a few concerns when it comes to the midfielder’s development. He hasn’t adapted well to Serie A and his lack of physical presence could mean a similar struggle in England. Although he possesses the technical ability, he isn’t consistent and he can go missing in games. It would be a huge risk if he was the headline signing of Newcastle’s summer.
Would he be a good signing?
There is no doubting that Praet has a lot of potential, but that has been the case for several years and his lack of success at Sampdoria is a concern. If he receives the right coaching and is given a role that suits him, he has the talent to be a good Premier League player. Benitez wants to sign young players and shape them in his image. The Belgian would benefit from working under the Spaniard. However, it is too soon for him to be a central figure for a Premier League club.