Newcastle need to be cautious when it comes to the former Ajax captain, and slowly reintroduce him to the first team over the coming months as we can’t afford to lose him for a lengthy period again. We lack goals without Papiss Cisse and the Dutchman could bring that to the team.
Newcastle spent a relatively high fee for the midfielder in the summer, especially as De Jong was approaching the end of his contract at Ajax and a lot of Alan Pardew’s pre-season plans were based around him. His injury certainly contributed to the side’s poor start as Pardew needed to overhaul his tactics as there was no player in the squad capable of replacing the Dutchman. He was seen as the replacement to Yohan Cabaye and as a player capable of creating and scoring goals for the club like the Frenchman did. His record in the Champions League is very impressive and as a former Ajax captain, he would bring leadership and organisation to the side.
There have been a significant number of reports suggesting that the summer signing was earmarked to play the number ten role, which is his strongest position. However the form of Moussa Sissoko, who is playing off the main striker will make it difficult to fit De Jong in the side. It will be an option to move Sissoko back or onto the right wing, but that would make the Frenchman less effective. He has been our best player this season and we can’t afford to see his form drop off.
Another option available to John Carver or the next permanent head coach will be to use the Dutch international as a forward, as he can play there and that would be less demanding than a role in midfield. De Jong is impressive in the air, and would be able to win headers and hold the ball up. However this isn’t his natural game. His impressive eye for a pass makes him better equipped to play in midfield. He could play as a striker, but he would be better suited as part of a two than as a lone frontman.
In recent matches, Newcastle have been lacking a goal threat without Papiss Cisse in the side. In fact, in our last three matches, we have only scored one goal and that was very fortunate as a clearance hit Yoan Gouffran and went in. It’s obvious that the side lack a goalscorer, and although that isn’t his main attribute, De Jong is good in front of goal, while he will bring more creativity to the side. Emmanuel Riviere may finally start to score goals as he has already showed he can play off a number ten at Crystal Palace in the cup, a game in which he scored twice. Adam Armstrong played off him that day. Siem de Jong will bring a new dimension to the Newcastle attack.
Personally, I’d ease him into the side, with two or three substitute appearances before he is even considered for a starting berth. He is only 25 and could have a big future at the club, but we need to make sure he is fit going into next season, with experience of the Premier League under his belt. I’d use him as a number ten off Papiss Cisse, with Ayoze Perez and Remy Cabella on the wings. The three could then interchange and it could be a really exciting attacking side. Moussa Sissoko could make driving runs from midfield, while Jack Colback sat back and provided defensive cover.
There are a number of tactics we could use and we have an opportunity to experiment over the coming months with relatively little pressure.