€12m striker Newcastle chased criticised amid goal drought

Steve McClaren

Newcastle United attempted to sign Luuk de Jong not so long ago, but the striker is enduring a mini-crisis in Germany.

During the 2012 summer transfer window, Newcastle were engaged in a battle to sign Luuk de Jong from FC Twente.

They were foiled by one man, ex-Middlesbrough boss Steve McClaren, who was in charge of the Eredivisie club at the time and hiked up the asking price until Newcastle were no longer willing to offer any more.

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De Jong had scored 32 goals in the 2011/12 season, a prolific figure which saw the then 21-year-old touted as one of Europe's hottest properties.

He was in the end sold, for €12 million to Borussia Moenchengladbach. However his time at the Bundesliga club has been difficult.

Put it this way, Newcastle fans will not be looking at his form and wishing they had been able to strike a deal.

His debut season got off to a tricky start. He scored two goals in his opening seven games - also netting an own goal - before sustaining a torn muscle which kept him out of action for two months.

De Jong finished the campaign with eight goals in all competitions, which included two Europa League goals in separate games against Fenerbahce.

However two months into the new season, De Jong finds himself struggling for form, disappointment at the end of the last campaign also an issue.

'Six months without a goal: Has De Jong forgotten how to score?' - Reads the headline in Germany's biggest newspaper, Bild.

Their title is a little harsh, because it should be taken into account two and a half of those six months, De Jong was on a summer break with the rest of the Bundesliga.

The Dutchman has not scored yet this season, and as Bild point out, his troubles began at the end of last year. His most recent goal for Moenchengladbach came on April 6 against basement side Greuther Furth. He then went five games without a goal before the end of the campaign.

With 2013/14 well underway, he has sadly picked up where he left off, featuring in five matches without a goal. Just that figure though is a little unfair too though, as four of his games have been as a substitute, three of which he played less than 10 minutes.

He was given a run out for a Moenchengladbach side in a friendly against FC Mainz on Saturday, playing from the start and failing to find the net, and as Bild report, missing the target when he did get shots away.

After the match he said: "It is of course hard to get self-confidence. Of course it is a serious situation for me. But  those who know me know that I will always fight."

It's clearly a frustrating challenge for the striker, the most testing of the 23-year-old's short career to date. Perhaps, Newcastle fans will want to thank Steve McClaren for pricing them out of his signature after all.

image: © Ureinwohner

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