Newcastle linked with 29-year-old out-of-favour Serie A star – A gamble that Bruce must avoid?


Why Faouzi Ghoulam would be a waste of a signing for Newcastle United

According to Le Buteur via Sport Witness (h/t MSN), Newcastle United are closing in on the capture of out-of-favour left-back Faouzi Ghoulam from Napoli in the January window.

Steve Bruce is understood to be in the market for fresh additions to reinforce his backline and the Algerian international could come through the door at St. James’ Park this month. Ghoulam has struggled for playtime in the Serie A and it has been claimed that he is open to a move away from Naples to resurrect his career. 


Ghoulam started his career at St.Etienne in France, making close to 100 appearances over the course of three-and-a-half seasons. The attacking full-back was snapped up by Napoli in January 2014, where he went on to establish himself as a regular starter under former manager Rafael Benitez. The Algerian was instrumental in his debut season, guiding the club to a third-place finish in the Serie A and the Coppa Italia title.

The 29-year-old excelled as a key cog in Napoli’s backline over the next three seasons before suffering an anterior cruciate ligament injury in 2017-18. His career has been in a downward spiral ever since, with Ghoulam restricted to a bit-part role in recent years. The Algerian started only thrice in the Serie A last term and has managed only a solitary league start so far this season. (h/t Transfermarkt)

ssc napoli v empoli fc coppa italia
NAPLES, ITALY – JANUARY 13: Faouzi Ghoulam of SSC Napoli during the Coppa Italia match between SSC Napoli and Empoli FC at Stadio Diego Armando Maradona on January 13, 2021, in Naples, Italy. (Getty Images)

Ghoulam was once regarded among the best attacking full-backs in Italy but his stock has plummeted drastically over the past few seasons. The last time that he started more than 20 league fixtures for Napoli was way back in 2016-17, which clearly shows that he hasn’t played much in recent times. 

A gamble to avoid?

Newcastle United offering Faouzi Ghoulam an escape route in January is a gamble they should simply avoid. The Algerian has had his fair share of struggles with injuries in recent years, rendering him short of playing time at Napoli. Having said that, there are obvious concerns over whether he would be able to endure the gruelling physicality of the Premier League. 

The Magpies roped in Jamal Lewis from Norwich City in the summer to add more depth and quality to their left-back options. The Northern Ireland international has made a positive impression at Tyneside this season so far. He is hardly the finished article at 22 but has shown the potential to evolve into in the years to come.

With Paul Dummett now back in the mix after recovering from a long-term injury and utility man Matt Ritchie also offering Bruce enough cover on the left, Newcastle are certainly not crying out for a new left-back. Javier Manquillo has also been utilised in that role in recent years, meaning the Magpies already have more than enough competition for places at left-back.

ssc napoli v uc sampdoria serie a
NAPLES, ITALY – DECEMBER 13: Faouzi Ghoulam of SSC Napoli during the Serie A match between SSC Napoli and UC Sampdoria at Stadio Diego Armando Maradona on December 13, 2020, in Naples, Italy. (Photo by Francesco Pecoraro/Getty Images)

On the contrary, Newcastle should be on the lookout for some specialist options to upgrade their right-back department. The likes of Emil Krafth, DeAndre Yedlin and Manquillo have all struggled for consistency, forcing Bruce to shoehorn winger Jacob Murphy into a full-back. Hence, it’s clear that signing a new right-back or even a centre-back would make a lot more sense in footballing terms as far as Newcastle are concerned.

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It is true that Faouzi Ghoulam has plenty of experience and a glowing track record to represent an instant upgrade on Newcastle’s existing options on the left. But then he’s going to turn 30 in February and has not played regularly for quite some time now. Bruce might as well look to freshen up things with some young blood as he already has plenty of ageing legs at the back.