What’s the latest Newcastle United transfer news?
According to the Shields Gazette, the Dutch defender could be a cut-price signing in an attempt to bolster the options at left-back after a difficult first season on Tyneside for Jamal Lewis.
Indeed, Willems – who enjoyed a brief but successful loan stint with the club last season of course – is gearing up to leave Eintracht Frankfurt at the end of the season upon the expiration of his contract, so would be a relatively cheap addition. Last week, The Athletic suggested Steve Bruce (or whoever is in charge of the club next season given his recent links with an exit) would have little to spend this summer, so free transfers would appear as if they’ll play a reasonably big role in the next recruitment cycle.
Would Willems be a signing?
The answer to that particular question surely comes down to whether or not the 27-year-old has fully recovered from the long-term cruciate ligament rupture he suffered against Chelsea at St James’ Park in January 2020. Alarmingly, he hasn’t played since, so it’s hard to say whether or not he’d still be operating at the level we saw prior to such a cruel blow.
So, the most we can use in terms of a statistical comparison is the averages he produced last season compared to Lewis’ this time around. According to WhoScored data, Willems averaged more tackles (1.9 to 1.6), interceptions (0.9 to 0.5) and clearances (2 to 1.5) per game last year than Lewis has managed this time around, while also producing more dribbles (1.1 to 0.5) and key passes (0.8 to 0.6).
Based on that, you’d have to say Willems would be an upgrade, though of course it’s important to remember the extent of his injury. Still, as a potentially inexpensive option and someone who already knows the lay of the land at the club, he could be a useful player to have around to pad out what was often been a problem position for Newcastle.