Those of a black and white persuasion on Tyneside have been truly blessed in recent times. For the first time in roughly two decades Newcastle United have got their recruitment nigh on spot on.
Almost every single player signed since Mike Ashley’s 2021 departure has played their part in the wonders that have followed. Bruno Guimaraes being the shining example of that fact.
After initially being eased into life in England’s top flight, every game the midfielder now misses feels like a hammer blow to Newcastle‘s chances of picking up all three points. But all footballers go through bad periods and maybe, just maybe, we are seeing Bruno’s first slight struggle at being able to impact games as he usually does. Not bad going given he joined 16 months ago.
Guimaraes held his hands up after the 3-1 win at Southampton, admitting he had not enjoyed his finest game. “Not my best day at the office today, I know that but it happens sometimes,” he tweeted.
One week later at St James’ Park he was targeted by Arsenal’s midfielders and not given an inch of space on or off the ball. Martin Odegaard, Granit Xhaka and Jorginho let the ex-Lyon man know he was in a battle as the Gunners ran out 2-0 winners.
There seems to be a fairly obvious reason, glaring us all in the face, as to why we maybe haven’t seen Bruno at his bewildering, brilliant best in recent games. He is being played too deep.
Eddie Howe’s lack of options mean Newcastle’s main man must sit at the base of the midfield trio, rather than having the freedom to roam further up the pitch to dictate play. Bruno himself even sees his best position as the No 8 role.
“At Lyon, I had a slightly different role, I played more as a first man, but at Athletico Paranaense and here at Newcastle I’ve been playing with a number 8, where I feel more comfortable playing,” Guimaraes said in 2022. “I’ve also been playing this role in the national team, which is the one I like the most.”
Jonjo Shelvey’s abrupt January exit left the Magpies short in the middle. Howe, the supporters and everyone knew it then and can see it now. “Our midfield is light, as I’ve said before,” Howe told reporters back in March.
With European nights back on the menu next summer, the transfer priority is clear. A proper, experienced, defensive midfielder who is happy to sweep up anything that may drop in front of the back four, comfortable receiving the ball deep in his own half and subsequently able to dictate play.
Newcastle are looking at plenty of options ahead of what promises to be a busy summer. Declan Rice’s name continues to rear its appealing head. But a move of that nature would all but obliterate any summer budget.
Chronicle Live understands interest remains in highly-rated RB Leipzig star Amadou Haidara. A significantly cheaper alternative to West Ham’s main man. Sporting Lisbon’s Manuel Ugarte, Boca Juniors’ youngster Alan Varela and Fulham’s Joao Palhinha have also been under consideration.
There will be clamour for a new right-midfielder, a big money left-back and even another attacker in the summer. But with the transfer window rapidly approaching, it’s clear where the priority lies for Newcastle’s recruitment team.
A defensive midfield addition will take the shackles off Newcastle’s brightest man in the middle and allow Bruno to re-find his usual, stellar form.
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