Jetro Willems is without a shadow of a doubt a man in very good form – so far this season he’s been a rock at the back for Newcastle, and even pitched in with two goals and two assists in the attack. Given that he’s only on loan at the moment, it seems to be a little bitter-sweet. There’s a sense of pride that he’s doing well, but a lingering concern about whether or not the move will become permanent.
Last season, Newcastle enjoyed the form and the goals of Salomon Rondon while on loan from West Bromwich Albion. In something of a similar situation, the fans were itching for the club to make that deal permanent, but the club refused to go and pay the £16million it would have cost to bring the Venezuelan in permanently. As a result of all that, there’s still a little bit of a sour taste in the mouth of the Toon Army with regards to loan deals.
The one fundamental difference between the two situations is that Newcastle and Eintracht Frankfurt, Willems’ parent club, negotiated a fee in the initial loan deal so that the option to make it permanent was Newcastle’s to make. Salamon Rondon’s loan deal had no such contract last season, and given the fact he is now 30-years-old, he didn’t fit Newcastle’s “buy them young, sell them on” transfer policy.
So, how much will the Dutchman set Newcastle back if they decide to make it permanent? According to the Newcastle Chronicle, the fee is £10million, which in today’s market is pennies for someone who can come and be a solid Premier League player.
The other question that must be asked is should Newcastle do it? As you may have guessed from the title of the article, my answer is yes – yes they should. All through the season to date, he’s been an integral part of Newcastle’s side. Only Isaac Hayden has completed more tackles than Willems, and in an attacking sense, only Christian Atsu has more assists than he does.
These statistics, although selective, show he has had a significant impact both on the struggling NUFC attack and the thriving back line. One of the stats that stands out the most to me is that despite having the second most tackles, he’s somehow only committed just seven fouls all season and is yet to receive a booking. As a full-back/wing-back, you’re constantly run at by pacey and tricky wingers – so this stat really resonated with me. It shows he’s calm, careful and considered when putting in a tackle – all attributes I’d consider to be vital for a Premier League defender.
Then, as alluded to earlier, he’s been an absolute force to be reckoned with going forward too. His link up play with Allan Saint-Maximin down the left wing has caused issues for plenty of teams so far, and he’s managed to bag two very impressive goals too. He scored an absolute banger of a goal at Anfield earlier on in the season and followed it up with another great strike against Manchester City two weeks back. If you’re gonna score a goal, might as well do it against the champions and the champions-elect.
All-in-all, I’ve been very impressed with Willems so far this season and although I wouldn’t expect a decision on his future any time soon, I’d urge the club to get this deal wrapped up in or before the January window. The player seems keen to stay on Tyneside, and we’re just as keen to see him stick around – it seems pretty cut and dry to me. One concern, this is Mike Ashley’s Newcastle United we’re talking about… nothing is ever easy.