Newcastle United Opinion: Dwight McNeil linked with a move to Tyneside- a good choice for the Magpies?
The Rochdale-born winger made his Premier League debut as a last-minute substitute for Aaron Lennon in the closing stages of the previous campaign but he has enjoyed a terrific breakthrough season for Sean Dyche’s side this time around.
McNeil broke into the first team picture at Turf Moor during the festive period in December and has emerged as one of the breakout stars of the Premier League, playing a key role in Burnley’s resurgence and helping the Clarets climb out of the relegation zone with a string of impressive performances.
The 19-year-old has really come of age this term and has chipped in with 3 goals and 5 assists from 17 appearances in the Premier League.
His red-hot form earned him a call-up to England’s U20 side in March and interest from some of the bigger clubs in the teenager comes as little surprise.
McNeil, though, has a contract at Turf Moor till 2023 and it remains to be seen whether he grabs the opportunity to join a big club or stays at Burnley to continue his development under Sean Dyche. Such has been the consistency of the 19-year-old that the likes of Robbie Brady and Aaron Lennon have been relegated to bench duty.
To put things into perspective, a move to Arsenal and Man City is likely to limit McNeil’s chances of playing regularly in the Premier League but Newcastle might be an ideal destination for him. The prospect of furthering his development under someone like Rafael Benitez should also appeal to the player and a move to Tyneside is likely to be in his best interests.
A technically-gifted left-winger blessed with quick feet and good pace and trickery on the ball, McNeil has been a real livewire down the left-hand side for the Clarets.
He has shown the fearlessness and the directness to run at his opposite number and work the spaces effectively down the wide areas with his excellent close control and good body balance.
Adept at using short exchanges to link up with his teammates and gifted with a good eye for a pass, the 19-year-old is also an excellent crosser of the ball who always seems to get the right dip, elevation and swirl on his deliveries into the penalty area.
McNeil’s ability to create chances from set-pieces can also be an asset to any team and his powerful left foot is capable of finding the net from range in open play as well. Furthermore, the youngster is an extremely hard worker down the flanks who has the awareness to track back and defend, which should make him a good fit for Newcastle down the left.
The Magpies have managed to beat the drop in the Premier League this season but they need to bring in some quality players in the summer to challenge for better things next term, maybe a top-ten finish.
McNeil is not yet the finished product but he can prove to be an instant upgrade on the likes of Christian Atsu and Robert Kenedy, both of whom have been largely underwhelming this season.
Matt Ritchie has done a terrific job down the left but it won’t be a bad idea for Benitez to invest in a talented teenager to freshen up his squad with some young blood.
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Both Burnley and Newcastle have struggled to enjoy too much possession in the Premier League and given that McNeil has flourished at Turf Moor under similar circumstances, there is a good chance of him replicating his good form at Tyneside next season.
He is a player with a bright future and it is not hard to see why Newcastle would strike gold by getting their hands on him.