No matter the outcome of this exhausting season, there’s no doubt the first half of it will be forever remembered as a complete and utter disappointment.
With just four wins in nineteen games (and 3/19 in the second half of last season), the club go into January in need of heavy investment. And, as expected, the tabloids have had no trouble in occupying their Rumour Mill sections with an abundance of Toon targets.
This morning, we were linked with Serie A centre-back, Kalidou Koulibaly, and this evening, the papers are tying our name down to Gladbach and Swiss midfielder, Granit Xhaka.
Xhaka, who has been plying his trade in Germany over the past three years, is said to be available for £12m and, according to some outlets, Newcastle are ready to swoop.
Who is he?
He’s a determined ball-winner known for his aggression, one with enough strength to keep opponents off the ball, and he possesses good tackling technique.
On the ball, Xhaka has a great passing range and is proficient with both feet. He can spray the ball around at will—over short or long distances—and has good control. And critically for a player of his position, he also has a good mind for the game; his vision and decision-making are excellent. Such qualities have earned him the comparison to Bastian Schweinsteiger by Swiss manager, Ottmar Hitzfeld.
Xhaka is by no means a prolific goalscorer (he has scored 6goals in 93 games for Gladbach), but he has an absolute cannon of a left foot; he’s a real threat from distance, and he has scored some stunning free-kicks in his day. Take a look at this video, for example.
Much like our very own Aleksandr Mitrovic, however, he has a hot temper. In just three-and-a-half seasons at Gladbach, he’s accumulated a whopping 44 yellow cards in all competitions (including second yellows) and has been sent off six times.
How likely is a deal?
Xhaka is certainly not short of suitors, and has been drawing attention from clubs across Europe in recent months. Arsenal are the most recent side to have been linked with the Swiss midfielder but it seems that Arsenal are linked with every midfielder under the sun these days.
Why would he move to Newcastle? Heaven knows, if the situation currently remains as it is. Sitting 18th in the league, we are in an absolute state right now, and it’s hard to believe anyone coming from outside of England, where our strong history and loyal supporters isn’t perhaps as pertinent, would want to come to the North-East.
Nonetheless, one thing that can’t be taken away from us as supporters is hope.
Indeed, people were undoubtedly saying the same thing this time six months ago when Xherdan Shaqiri was first being linked with Stoke City. And here he is, against all odds, doing the job on regular basis on a cold night in Stoke.
We live in hope.
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