The Newcastle Chronicle recently ran an article listing the six first-team squad members who were out of contract at St James’ Park this summer.
The newspaper invited its readership to cast their votes on who they deemed worthy of a new contract.
One of these players was the winger Sammy Ameobi, younger brother of striker Shola Ameobi who managed to remain on Tyneside for 14 seasons and whose final four seasons at the club yielded 11 league goals from 104 appearances.
Albeit in a different position, watching Sammy Ameobi play is very much like watching his brother. You can see there is talent there, but for the vast majority of the time, this talent remains totally unrealised. Ameobi junior has pace, can beat a man, and finish to a decent standard, but games in which all three of these things knit together are unfortunately rare.
Sammy Ameobi’s not a kid any more – he’ll be 23 on May 1st – but any semblance of consistency to his game appears to be as far away as it ever was for his brother. It seems a shame that history looks to be repeating itself. Fans had huge hopes for Shola Ameobi – stories abounded of the outrageous skills he would display in training – but he remained a kernel that never popped, and was a figure of fun for many fans by the time he left last summer.
There’s now a real worry that Sammy is going to go the same way. He has little positional awareness, cannot read the game, and has desperate trouble concentrating on the task in hand. If he’s unable to concentrate for 90 minutes by the age of 23 then that’s a concern.
Apparently other Premiership clubs are ‘monitoring the situation’ as Sammy’s current contract winds down, but I have a strong feeling he’ll remain on Tyneside, primarily because he’s relatively cheap.
Although many feel that Sammy’s a Championship-standard player at best, I dutifully cast my vote on the Chronicle website that, yes, he should be offered a new contract; the main motive behind this being that if Sammy leaves, an already threadbare squad will become smaller still.
In an ideal world, Sammy should be a back-up to a Premiership standard winger - but, in an ideal world, Newcastle United would probably invest in 10 new players!