While Ayoze Perez and latterly Mo Diame continued to prove that Rafael Benitez is fighting a losing battle attempting to shoehorn them into an ill-fitting number 10 role, Siem De Jong gave the Spaniard a little nudge with another superb goalscoring performance on loan at PSV Eindhoven, The Chronicle reports.
Newcastle United stuttered to a goalless draw with Birmingham City on Saturday with their lack of creativity from central midfield, particularly in the absence of Jonjo Shelvey, meaning they were unable to open up a side that has conceded for fun since Gianfranco Zola took over.
Perez appears far better suited in wide areas or in a natural striking position while Diame, a player who thrives in wide open spaces, lacks the intricacy to pick a defensive lock or score regularly from midfield.
Fortunately for De Jong’s future prospects on Tyneside, he does not have the same problem. Fizzing a fantastic first-time shot in off the crossbar to cap a Man of the Match performance and earn PSV an impressive 1-0 home win against Vitesse Arnhem, the 28-year-old has now scored four times in his last three Eredivisie games.
De Jong, who endured a spate of injuries in England, admitted recently that he wants to return to Newcastle at the end of the season and The Chronicle reports that Benitez sent him on loan to PSV not to merely farm him out but to build up his fitness. The manager believes De Jong can play a key role his side.
And, judging by his tally of six goals in seven starts in the Eredivisie, Benitez may be right. As strong as an ox yet intelligent and blessed with a cultured touch and eye for goal, a fit and firing De Jong is the prototype number 10 – the player Newcastle are crying out for.
For the time being, however, Benitez continues to shunt Diame into a role he simply cannot fulfill. De Jong has scored more goals in his last three games than the Senegalese has in his last 30 while his tally of two assists is nowhere near enough for a player who has challenged with providing the creative threat.
However, if De Jonh returns in the summer, Diame could find that his position in the side is under more threat than ever - especially with Benitez hardly short of options in his favoured deep-lying midfield role.