Newcastle United need a creative, deep-lying playmaker and the England Under-21 international fits the bill.
On initial inspection, Newcastle United can reign in the New Year with plenty of cheer.
A 3-1 win against Nottingham Forest, complete with a Dwight Gayle double and a karma-fuelled controversial red to visiting defender Matt Mills, returned The Magpies to the top of the Championship table.
Dig a little further, however, and Rafa Benitez has no reason to be popping any champagne corks just yet. Akin to the 1-0 home defeat to Sheffield Wednesday on Boxing Day, Newcastle lacked creativity and ingenuity in the centre of the park. They also missed Jonjo Shelvey, completing the second game of a five match ban, and you would be hard pressed to argue against the two factors being inextricably linked.
Once again, the defensively minded Isaac Hayden lined up alongside Jack Colback, neither player possessing the vision or the expansive passing range of arguably the most talented midfielder in the Championship.
Benitez, earlier in the week, said it was ‘clear’ where Newcastle need to strengthen in January, and the last two games of 2017 will only have reinforced the notion that Newcastle are alarmingly short of midfield creativity with Shelvey out of the picture.
According to The Chronicle, Benitez is a known admirer of the thrusting, powerful central midfielder likened recently by Glenn Hoddle to Germany legend and former Blues title winner Michael Ballack.
The 20-year-old appears the ideal replacement for Shelvey, and although Chelsea are reportedly keen on farming him out to a fellow Premier League club to build up top-flight experience, Newcastle’s belief in Loftus-Cheek’s qualities may just sway the decision their way.
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