It’s been difficult to get excited about Siem De Jong, though he could be the man to help stop the slide at St. James’ Park. The Dutchman arrived last season, having captained Ajax and excelled as a playmaker in his homeland.
However, a number of injuries have prevented him getting a run in the side since his move last summer, and the 26-year old has played just 107 mins of competitive action under new boss Steve McClaren.
Where the Toon have struggled this year is converting their nice possession and build up play into clear cut chances. Take the derby for example, completely in control of the game but a lack of genuine attempts on goal.
Before Sergio Aguero ran riot, the St. Jame’s Park outfit were in cruise control against Man City away from home. Again, there just appeared to be one missing piece in the jigsaw.
It’s not as if Mitrovic has missed a shed load of chances, or that the midfield behind him isn’t doing their job – they are – it’s just the side lacks a truly creative presence. The Serbian international looks perfect as a target man, someone to build a vibrant hub of attacking midfielders around.
Granted Wijnaldum has proved to a breath of fresh air, but he is better as a box to box man, winning the ball back and surging through the middle of the park.
This is where De Jong comes in. Should he soon regain his fitness, McClaren can finally build a creative link from the industrious engine room and potentially lethal attack.
Compatriot Wijnaldum could be paired next to Colback at the base of midfield and provide all the energy we have seen in the early stages of his Toon career, as well as making late runs into the box. Though he has excelled playing in a variety of his positions, his tendency to win the ball back and push on makes him ideal in the pivot.
Colback will hold and act as deep-lying playmaker next to the £14m, ensuring the leaky defence is never left to open.
De Jong could then operate as chief playmaker, linking nicely with Perez on the left and having the explosive runs of Sissoko and Janmaat to his right. With the £13.5m Serb bruiser leading the line, the North East giants can boast strength, power, pace and creativity all throughout their frontline.
On paper, this one of the most varied attacks in the division. Clearly games aren’t won on paper, but McClaren needs ideas. He needs them now.
This is all of course conjecture should De Jong continue to miss games. However, his 20 min cameo against Stoke gave signs of encouragement, he could just be the missing link.
Let’s hope he doesn’t end up as bad as his brother.