Transfer Opinion: Newcastle pursuit of four assists free agent must get over the line

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It’s hard to believe the difference a season can make. Ryan Fraser wasn’t lying when he revealed “I didn’t play for the team” or that he “wasn’t himself” in the opening period of the season.

The Cherries winger commanded the touchline last season and was Eddie Howe’s chief creator, providing an astronomical 14 top-flight assists. Only Eden Hazard set up more Premier League goals in the 2018/19 campaign, 15, and the Belgian winger scooped the Playmaker Award, then promptly departed to Real Madrid for a fee which could exceed £150m.

Meanwhile, Fraser was on the south coast with just one year left on his deal at A.F.C Bournemouth. Stuck in a relegation scrap, when the Cherries needed the 26-year-old most he didn’t answer the call, providing just one goal and four assists this term, departing before the division restarted.

Nevertheless, Newcastle United have been linked with a move for the free agent, and the Magpies must ignore his indifferent spell this season to secure the Scottish midfielder’s signature.

Over his first two Premier League seasons, Fraser had shown impressive consistency both scoring and assisting eight goals over 54 top-flight appearances, but it was last term when he really exploded into life. Not only was he the second-best playmaker in the division, but Fraser also bagged himself seven goals, his highest total in a Premier League campaign.

His situation on the south coast has obviously soured. But the opportunity to link up with a former teammate and international compatriot Matt Ritchie may just help the fellow Scot bed into his new surroundings, were he to arrive at St James’ Park. Furthermore, if he can reproduce his form from last season, he would add vital goals to Newcastle, who were desperately short this term with Jonjo Shelvey top-scoring on six Premier League strikes.

Fraser could be precisely the player Newcastle need to form an attacking midfield trident of Allan Saint-Maximin, Miguel Almiron and the Scottish wide man. Unlike the Frenchman, who completes 4.7 dribbles per match, Fraser is not so heavily reliant on his dribbling abilities, and he averaged over 2.4 key passes per match last term for both club and county.

It is imperative that the Magpies do not miss out on this absolute steal, especially considering the hammer blow that Saudi Arabia have pulled out of the prospective takeover.

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