Transfer Opinion: Newcastle must beat frontrunners to plug vital squad gap

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Wigan Athletic may have endured a cruel end to the Championship season at the hands of their owner, having been relegated after going into administration, allegedly due to a bet that the Latics would go down placed in the Philippines. But it could get worse for the League One side yet as some of their brightest stars could be snatched up this summer.

One player who is already garnering Premier League interest is left back Antonee Robinson, who had a terrific campaign in the second-tier last term. Sheffield United are reportedly the frontrunners to secure the American international’s signature; however, Newcastle United should beat the Blades to their target and plug a vital gap in the squad.

Last term two loanees held down the left back slot on Tyneside. First Jetro Willems arrived in the summer on loan from Eintracht Frankfurt, and the Dutch international made an excellent first impression and even scored twice, against Liverpool and Manchester City. However, his time at St James’ Park was ended prematurely when he suffered a nasty rupture of his cruciate ligament.

In January, England international Danny Rose arrived in Willems’ place and performed admirably during his 11 Premier League appearances, leading to speculation that the Magpies may sign him permanently for £5m.

However, it’s been suggested that Robinson’s asking price is an even more reasonable £1.9m, which could prove to be a steal given that the 23-year-old nearly joined AC Milan for £10m in January. The American international may have only provided one goal and assist in the Championship last term, but he caught the eye with some commanding defensive performances.

Only Lewis MacLeod, 2.8, provided more tackles per 90 minutes than Robinson’s 2.2 in the second tier for Wigan last term. Furthermore, the full back also completed the second-highest number of interceptions per match, two, behind only Dujon Sterling on 2.9 per game. What was even more impressive though, is that the left back was able to complete so many tackles and interceptions while conceding just 0.8 fouls per 90 minutes.

Robinson may not offer too much in the way of attacking contribution, but it is clear from his Championship performances last season that he is adept at regaining possession. With both Rose and Willems back at their parent clubs, Newcastle are currently without a natural left back, and Robinson could plug a gap which desperately needs filling.

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