Newcastle – January priority must be a Joelinton partner

This season, Steve Bruce and his Newcastle side have perhaps been better than we all expected, but have struggled in one key area – scoring goals. The Magpies currently sit eleventh in the Premier League table and have 20 goals to their name. They’ve managed more than one goal in a game just five times this season.

£40million summer signing Joelinton was expected to take a lot of the goal-scoring responsibility, but has struggled and managed just one goal all season. Given that he isn’t actually and out-and-out old school number nine type centre forward, that isn’t a surprise.

Lately, manager Steve Bruce seems to have switched from the 5-4-1 formation he has been playing, to more of a 5-3-2. Basically, what it means is that he’s given Joelinton a partner – and his performances have improved as a result. When he plays with Andy Carroll, Joe ends up being forced to spend most of his time on the wing. However, at Old Trafford on Boxing Day, he played alongside Dwight Gayle as a second, more withdrawn striker – and had a very decent game.

Unfortunately, Gayle has proven time and again he isn’t cut out to be a Premier League striker – for whatever reason, he just can’t seem to get goals in this league. However, against Manchester United, it seemed as though he may have given Newcastle the blueprint to unlock Joelinton’s ability.

His pace and ability to find space allowed Joelinton to drop deeper, pick up the ball and drive forward AND have somebody to pass to – unlike how it’s been for the majority of the season so far where he’s been drastically isolated. So, to me, it seems as though Bruce and the Newcastle hierarchy have been handed the information on what they need to be looking for in January.

If they are going to persist with the 5-3-2, then it seems to me it should be a case of Carroll/Joelinton – not both. Although Joelinton can play out wide, he’s far more effective as a second striker. This would also allow Miguel Almiron to play more centrally too – as a part of the midfield three.

With the January transfer just hours away from opening now, my suggestion would be that Newcastle should look to find a striker who is similar to Gayle in stature and has a killer instinct in front of goal. Ideally you want a player who can play the role of a poacher well, sniffing out a goal chance and has that instinct to know where to be that only the best strikers have. The ironic thing in all of this is that Ayoze Perez probably could have played that role perfectly…

At Hoffenheim, Joelinton prospered in exactly that type of role alongside Andrej Kramaric. Dropping deep and powering forward with the ball, bringing his teammates into the game – it’s the clear way to get the best out of him. Now all Newcastle need to do in January is find their Andrej Kramaric… tough ask, but doable.

For me, the ideal choice would be Atlanta United’s Josef Martinez. At 26-years-old, he has an amazing nose for a goal and finds the back of the net on a regular basis – albeit in a far inferior league. The other thing that signing would do is reunite him with Miguel Almiron – the pair were amazing in MLS together and already have a brilliant bond. Currently, TransferMarkt value the Venezuelan at £15.75million – if Newcastle could get him for that little, they absolutely need to do it.

What do you think, who should Newcastle sign this winter?

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