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Timely Islam Slimani boost could help Newcastle secure safety

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English Premier League

Timely Islam Slimani boost could help Newcastle secure safety

The Algerian international joined the club on loan in the January window.

The transfer business conducted by Newcastle United this season has been patchy at best, with the club seeming to act slowly when bringing in new players.

Rafa Benitez made a striker a priority for the January transfer window.

After some time was spent trying and failing to sign Nicolai Jorgensen from Feyenoord, the Magpies turned their attention to Leicester City striker Islam Slimani.

The Algerian arrived on a loan deal and it appeared to be a great piece of business by the club.

However, in hindsight, the deal doesn’t look as great as the striker has yet to pull on a Newcastle shirt almost two months into his spell with the club.

The 29-year-old has been struggling with a thigh injury and has had to be managed carefully by the coaching staff.

The Chronicle report that he could be ready to make his debut this weekend against Huddersfield Town after featuring for Algeria during the international break.

That is encouraging news for Newcastle as they look to secure their Premier League status for next season.

He is facing a difficult battle to be considered a good signing after missing so much football, but there is no doubting that Slimani will offer quality that has been lacking in the front-line this season.

Their top scorer is Dwight Gayle with five goals and that shows why they are struggling at the bottom end of the table.

Rafa Benitez has made Newcastle difficult to beat, as shown by their defensive record. Alongside Brighton, they have conceded fewer than any other team in the bottom half.

They have a foundation to build on over the coming seasons, but they need to add quality to their attack if they are to progress into a top-half Premier League side.

It remains to be seen whether Slimani has a long-term future at St James’ Park.

That does look unlikely at this stage, but it could be a possibility if he finishes the season with a flourish.

The Algerian international will come into the Newcastle team with a point to prove, not only to those at the club but to the rest of the country after a disappointing time at Leicester City.

Slimani only made 15 Premier League starts for the Foxes and his goal return over that period wasn’t bad, but he will believe he didn’t get a fair chance.

He scored eight times in the league with a goal coming every 190.1 minutes.

Considering he wasn’t given a sustained run in the first-team, his record at the KP Stadium suggests he can do well in this division.

During his time at Sporting, he emerged as a powerful centre-forward who thrived in the air.

He seemed a perfect fit for the English game, but Leicester City may not have been the best team for him.

They are more effective when playing on the counter-attack with quick and skilful players.

That isn’t where Slimani’s strengths lie. He is much better at holding the ball up and looking to cause problems with his aerial threat.

In that sense, Newcastle should be a better fit, as they want a forward that can hold up the ball and bring their more creative midfielders into the game.

Meanwhile, they possess players that can deliver a good cross and have a decent record from set pieces.

Slimani should receive service if he manages to get back to full fitness and break into the team.

Although this signing may be seen as a bad one due to his injury problems, there is still time for Slimani to play a part for Newcastle.

If he does return this weekend, it will provide an injection of quality that previously wasn’t available to Benitez and that can only be a positive thing.

Jake is a journalist based in the South East. He is a Newcastle United fan and has a keen interest in Dutch football. Jake can be found on Twitter here - @jakejackmann.

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