Why Newcastle must sign Nicolas Tagliafico from Ajax this summer
Premier League club Newcastle United have made an enquiry for Ajax’s Argentine defender Nicolas Tagliafico, who had a terrific season in the Eredivisie. The Dutch club have slapped a price tag of around £8m, which might be too much for the Magpies to pay this summer.
Manager Rafa Benitez is an admirer of the left-back and has kept close tabs on the player for some time now. However, with Newcastle still in the market to buy a striker, a defender to replace injured Florian Lejeune and a No.10, there is less chance for the Spaniard to find funds to purchase Tagliafico.
Here’s everything you need to know about the player and why Benitez was so keen to get him to backup/replace Paul Dummett:
Player Analysis – Nicolas Tagliafico
Age – 25
Main Positions – Central Defender, Left-back
Tagliafico is a fantastic all-around defender who boasts of a nice blend of defensive sturdiness and an acute eye for incisive passing. He is physically well-built to win aerial duels, doing so at an average of 2.3 per game, and shrugs off attackers in the blink of an eye. The 25-year-old is an imperious passer of the ball, recording an average of 84.2% with a key pass rate of 1 per game.
Tagliafico doesn’t shy away from making tackles and he often steps up to intercept a particular attack at an average of 2 per game. Those are impressive numbers which epitomize his propensity to impact the game on both sides of the field.
The Argentine also likes to dribble past defenders to open up spaces for a pass or a cross. No wonder Benitez is interested in him and wanted to have him in his Newcastle squad. Tagliafico is the perfect example of a player who is always giving 100% on the pitch, which sometimes leads a bit of rashness but that’s all part of the game.
When Rafa Benitez is an admirer of a particular player, one should believe that he is a good asset to football. Tagliafico is exactly what the Spaniard wants from a defender – he is tenacious, sturdy and an accurate passer.
This will be a perfect move for Newcastle if they manage to pay what Ajax are asking, which looks like a tall order for now.
Stats Courtesy – Who Scored.com (Stats from the games he played for Ajax)
Newcastle United would bag an absolute steal by signing this 26-year-old defensive genius for £10.7m
Newcastle United Opinion: Diego Laxalt could be an absolute steal for the Magpies at £10.7 million
This is not the first time, though, that the Magpies have been linked with the 26-year-old, and with AC Milan looking to secure a fee of just £10.7 million to part ways with the out-of-favour star, Newcastle have been handed a massive boost in their pursuit of the Uruguayan World Cup star. (h/t Shields Gazette)
However, if the Magpies are really serious about getting their hands on the versatile left-sided South American, they would need to fend off interest from Serie A clubs Atalanta and Torino. (h/t Shields Gazette)
Laxalt has struggled for regular minutes at AC Milan since making his move to the San Siro from Genoa last summer.
The 26-year-old featured sporadically under former manager Gennaro Gattuso and started only 6 Serie A games in the previous campaign, although he went on to make a total of 29 appearances for the Rossoneri in all competitions.
The 26-year-old, who has 17 international caps for Uruguay under his belt and represented his nation at the 2018 FIFA World Cup, rose through the youth ranks of Defensor Sporting in his homeland before making a move to Europe with Inter Milan back in 2013.
However, Laxalt found regular minutes hard to come by at Inter and subsequently spent time on loan at Serie A clubs Empoli, Bologna and Genoa, joining the latter permanently in 2016.
Laxalt accumulated 8 goals and 17 assists in 117 appearances for Genoa in all competitions over the course of three seasons before making his move to AC Milan in the summer of 2018. However, his ill-fated spell at Milan looks likely to come to an end after just 12 months and he might as well be on his way to the Premier League, with Newcastle United holding a long-standing interest in him.
To put things into perspective, the news involving AC Milan’s low asking price for the Uruguayan should please the fans at Tyneside and it is a no-brainer that Laxalt’s arrival would go a long way towards solving the club’s left-sided conundrum.
The Magpies need to bring in a new left-back or a wing-back this summer to take the pressure off Matt Ritchie’s shoulders and the 26-year-old certainly presents a quality and affordable option in the market.
Benitez apparently lacked the personnel to implement his back-three system with two wing-backs, which is probably why Ritchie was used in that unfamiliar left wing-back role last season.
He still managed to contribute with 2 goals and 8 assists in the Premier League but Newcastle should look to use him in a more advanced role next season in order to maximise his potential.
Laxalt’s versatility to play at left-back, left wing-back and central midfield should help Newcastle solve a lot of problems simultaneously, although it is still unclear what role the club has in mind for him if they do go ahead with a deal to bring him in this summer.
A robust, hardworking, pacey and tricky customer on the pitch, the Uruguayan has the ability to control the game in the midfield with his good range of passing and game-reading skills but he is also adept at using his pace, dribbling and drive to good effect down the flanks, making him a good fit for either role.
Laxalt has a good eye for final balls in the attacking third, and that, coupled with his ability to deal with the transitions in play and deliver pin-point crosses into the box make him a wonderful utility player for any team in the world.
Newcastle should relish the prospect of having him at left-back next season, although they could also choose to use him in central midfield, given the uncertainty over the futures of Mo Diame, Issac Hayden and Jonjo Shelvey.
Last season’s breakout star Sean Longstaff has also attracted interest from Man United, meaning that Newcastle are in serious danger of losing a lot of cover in central midfield this summer. (h/t Manchester Evening News)
The Magpies are yet to sort out the future of Rafael Benitez at the club, amidst talks of a multi-million-pound takeover by Dubai-based Bin Zayed Group. Newcastle could well be set for a massive spending spree this summer should the cash-rich Middle Eastern group assume ownership of the club before the end of the transfer window.
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Leaving all those talks aside, the acquisition of Diego Laxalt would certainly be a massive coup for the Magpies and £10.7 million for an experienced and talented player him might prove to be an absolute steal for the club.
Middlesbrough would make a solid statement by signing this 24-goal hitman to fire themselves to promotion
Middlesbrough Opinion: Why Boro should go all out to sign Dwight Gayle?
According to a report from the Daily Star, Middlesbrough are interested in signing Newcastle United striker Dwight Gayle this summer.
Dwight Gayle, 28, spent the last season on long at West Brom, with Salomon Rondon going the opposite direction. He netted 24 goals in 39 Championship appearances, being one of the driving forces behind the Baggies promotion charge which ended in play-off semi-finals defeat to rivals Aston Villa.
After it was confirmed that West Brom would spend another season in England’s second tier, the club opted not to make Gayle’s signing permanent.
Gayle is back at Newcastle but isn’t expected to stay as he is not a part of Rafael Benitez’s future plans. That being said, Middlesbrough must do everything possible to sign the 28-year-old this summer.
Middlesbrough appointed Jonathan Woodgate as their manager on Friday to succeed Tony Pulis, who departed at the end of last season when Boro missed out on the play-offs. The 39-year-old will have a huge task of building the squad as per his own image and playing an attractive brand of football to bring the fans back to Riverside.
By bringing in several quality additions during the transfer window, Woodgate will undoubtedly be pushing for promotion next term. Following a season in which Middlesbrough scored just 49 goals, it’s clear where the newly-appointed manager should focus first while signing players.
A need to strengthen the centre-forward department is paramount, with a lack of goals proving to be really troublesome for Boro last season. And with this mind, Dwight Gayle would be perfect for the Teesside outfit.
In recent years, Gayle has thrived in the second tier of English football and his record in the second-tier of English football is phenomenal. During the recently concluded season, the experienced striker scored 24 goals from his 39 Championship appearances for West Brom, who finished fourth in the division. That simply tells what a lethal finisher the 28-year-old is and how would he help Boro improve upon the potency of their play in the final third next term.
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If Gayle returns to the Championship next season, the team that lands him will surely be in with a brilliant chance of getting across the line in the promotion race. If it is Middlesbrough, his goals could make all the difference at the Riverside Stadium.
Woodgate will be well aware that he’ll need more depth and quality in forward department to mount a promotion charge, but it remains to be seen how a player like Gayle would be welcomed by the Middlesbrough faithful.
Forget Dummett – Newcastle’s left-back woes would end if Benitez succeeds in signing this agile Serie A star
Newcastle United Opinion: Why the Magpies should go for Jordan Lukaku?
According to a report from Il Messaggero, Newcastle United could be offered a second chance to sign Lazio left-back Jordan Lukaku as the Serie A club look to tempt the Magpies into selling skipper Jamaal Lascelles.
Newcastle backed out of a deal to sign Lukaku in the last minute of the January transfer window due the player’s injury problems, according to the Chronicle. But now Lazio have gone a step further in their pursuit for Jamaal Lascelles by including Jordan Lukaku in a deal.
As far as Lascelles is concerned, the 25-year-old is a pillar at the back for Newcastle and played a crucial role in getting the club promoted to the top flight a couple of years back. He has been fantastic over the last couple of seasons and is only going to get better with time and age.
That being said, however, it remains to be seen what the offer is, but the Magpies cannot afford to lose Lascelles this summer. Moreover, the aggressive defender has a contract at the St. James’ Park until the summer of 2024, so Newcastle shouldn’t be in any hurry to sell him. The Englishman is one of Rafael Benitez’s key players and he is highly likely to continue wearing the Black and White strips, at least for next season.
Speaking about Lukaku now, he has had an injury-hit campaign with Lazio and clearly needs a move away from the club to reignite his career. Newcastle must take a punt on the 24-year-old to solve their long-standing left-back woes.
Benitez signed Antonio Barreca on loan from AS Monaco in January but has returned back to the club after enduring a forgettable spell at Tyneside. Paul Dummett is injury-prone and isn’t the long-term solution. Matt Ritchie did a commendable job in a makeshift left-back role but Benitez cannot expect him to continue in the same vein next term.
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Therefore, signing Lukaku would make sense. A sharp, agile and flying left-back, who is also comfortable operating as a left wing-back, the Belgian’s pace, dribbling skills and close control and body balance make him an exciting player to watch. He is excellent on the overlap and adept at linking up with his teammates in and around that penalty area. Truly, he’ll be an upgrade on Dummett.
Newcastle desperately need a left-back and Lukaku would be a smart signing if he can put behind his injury problems. But any deal should be purely dealt in money and must not involve Lascelles, as the 25-year-old is an indispensable figure for Benitez and company.
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