In January Newcastle shrewdly brought in three players on-loan, Danny Rose, Valentino Lazaro and Nabil Bentaleb to cover gaps in the squad. Although, with the trio possibly returning to their parent clubs at the end of the season their influences will need to be replaced this summer. It looks like the Toon are preparing to do, as they have been linked with AS Roma midfielder Amadou Diawara.
Should he arrive at St James’ Park, the 23-year-old central defensive midfielder would likely compete with Isaac Hayden, for a place in the starting eleven alongside Jonjo Shelvey. Hayden occupies a more defensive role, allowing his partner to play make from deep, without having to worry too much about his defensive responsibilities. Diawara has tended to slot into a four-man midfield at Roma but could comfortably drop a little deeper to sit alongside Shelvey.
So far this term the Guinea international has averaged 1.6 tackles per match, along with 1.5 interceptions for the fifth-place side in Serie A. Meanwhile, Hayden has recorded 0.4 more tackles in the Toon’s midfield, and 0.1 fewer interceptions per 90 minutes, suggesting he may be the more capable defender of the duo. Nevertheless, there is not much to split the pair based on their defensive statistics this term.
However, there is an enormous difference in how involved the pair are in build-up play, with Diawara attempting an average of 45.2 passes per game, with an astonishingly high 88.3 per cent accuracy. The 23-year-old has been incredibly reliable in possession this season and is a major contributing factor when Roma progress play through the engine room.
Hayden’s role is a little different with Newcastle as he makes just 28.5 passes per 90 minutes, and only has an accuracy of 79 per cent. It is a common occurrence to see the 25-year-old midfielder passing the ball short to Shelvey alongside him who tends to then use his superior passing range and vision to release others. Diawara’s addition would perhaps make Newcastle more unpredictable, which might, in turn, free up additional space for Shelvey if the opposition had to try and cut multiple passing lanes.
Though they operate in the same role, Hayden and Diawara have subtle differences which could be of use to Newcastle next season if they bring the Guinea midfielder to the northeast. The Englishman appears to offer more defensively, but is a blunted going forwards, while Diawara offers slightly less defensive stability but a more significant playmaking threat.
If Bentaleb returns to Schalke after his loan expires then Newcastle will need to bring in a replacement. Diawara should slot nicely into Steve Bruce’s system alongside Shelvey and if he is available for £27m, as suggested, could represent a smart investment.