Why Valentino Lazaro could be a smashing signing for Newcastle United

According to the Chronicle Live, Newcastle United are currently running the rule over Inter Milan midfielder Valentino Lazaro, who has struggled for regular minutes at the San Siro this season. 

The 23-year-old Austrian international only moved to Inter from German Bundesliga outfit Hertha Berlin this past summer but has made just 11 appearances for the Nerazzurri across all competitions so far, starting only thrice in the Serie A. 

Lazaro carved out a reputation as the best Austrian player to play in Germany after David Alaba during his time at Hertha Berlin but has suffered a significant fall in grace since his switch to Italy, with Antonio Conte happy to rely on more established options as he bids to win the domestic title. 

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Valentino Lazaro has made only 11 appearances for Inter Milan in all competitions so far this season (Getty Images)

A youth exponent of Austrian heavyweights RB Salzburg, Lazaro clocked up 121 appearances for his boyhood club across all competitions earlier in his career, accumulating 15 goals and 23 assists, whilst also impressing in the UEFA Europa League. 

The 23-year-old’s impressive numbers, coupled with his versatility to play in multiple positions across the pitch, earned him a move to Germany with Hertha back in 2017, and Lazaro made an immediate impact in the Bundesliga. 

The 28-cap Austrian international went on to register 5 goals and 13 assists in 65 outings over the course of his two years at Hertha Berlin, playing in a number of roles ranging from attacking midfield to wing-back. 

However, Lazaro’s lack of playtime at Inter has fuelled speculations over his future and he is understandably keen to play regular first-team football in a bid to retain his place in Austria’s international set-up, with the Euro 2020 knocking on the door. 

Meanwhile, Newcastle United recovered from three consecutive Premier League defeats to play out a 1-1 draw against Wolves last week, as Miguel Almiron’s opener was cancelled out by Leander Dendoncker’s equalizer. 

The Magpies currently sit 13th in the standings, five points clear of the relegation zone, but with the competition for places at both ends of the table expected to heat up towards the crunch end of the season, Steve Bruce will definitely need to get his recruitment spot on in the winter market. 

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Lazaro was regarded as one of the best versatile players during his time at Hertha Berlin in the German Bundesliga (Getty Images)

Newcastle might have earned plaudits for their stubborn displays at the back but their goal tally of 21 still ranks second-worst among all the other teams in the Premier League. 

To that end, it is a no-brainer that Bruce needs to focus on strengthening his attack, and while Valentino Lazaro is not really a striker by any means, his past record in Austria and Germany suggests that he could well be the man to inject some much-needed creativity into a rather workmanlike midfield. 

The 23-year-old versatility to play in multiple positions is undoubtedly one of his greatest assets. Essentially a central attacking midfielder by trade, Lazaro has played out wide on both flanks and also in a deeper central midfield role. He was even used as a wing-back on either side of the pitch at Hertha, which further justifies Newcastle’s interest in his services.

Looking back at his statistics from the previous campaign in the Bundesliga, Lazaro recorded a pass success rate of 76.3, including 1.5 tackles, 1.4 interceptions, 1.8 key passes, 1.1 dribbles, 1.5 crosses and 1.6 long balls per game. (whoscored)

Those numbers speak volumes of his ability to contribute equally at both ends of the pitch, starting from breaking up the play and regaining possession for his team to creating goals with his dribbling and crossing skills. 

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Newcastle are running the rule over Lazaro (Getty Images)

Verdict

It is unclear as to what kind of role he would play at Newcastle if a move to St. James’ Park does materialize before the January deadline, but given the team’s attacking woes, the Austrian would presumably slot seamlessly into an attacking midfield role. 

Midfielders Jonjo Shelvey and young Matty Longstaff have shared 7 goals between them so far, but with Sean Longstaff struggling to live up to the expectations and Ki Sung-Yueng very much a peripheral figure in Bruce’s playing eleven, the door is very much open for Lazaro to come in and make an immediate impact. 

Profiled by the Chronicle Live as a player with a lot of pace and good dribbling ability, Lazaro could possibly add that much-needed cutting-edge to the Newcastle’s midfield, something that has been lacking more often than not. 

Also, his versatility to play as a wing-back on the right means that Lazaro could slot straight into Newcastle’s playing eleven as an instant upgrade on the likes of DeAndre Yedlin, Javier Manquillo and Emil Krafth, neither of whom has managed to convince Steve Bruce and nail down a regular starting role. 

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All in all, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that Valentino Lazaro certainly has the skillset and the versatility to improve Newcastle’s current squad. 

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