The Daily Star is claiming that Newcastle United have added Burnley wonderkid Dwight McNeil to their summer wish-list.
Rafa Benitez’s scouts have supposedly given a glowing report of the 19-year-old and the wings are certainly a position which needs improving for next season.
The current options
Newcastle’s wingers consist of Matt Ritchie, Kenedy, Christian Atsu and Jacob Murphy, who is out on loan to West Brom.
Miguel Almiron and Ayoze Perez can play out-wide but that is not their best position, they are more suited to playing centrally.
Ritchie has been converted to a wing-back because the wingers so crucial to Benitez’s preferred 4-2-3-1 have performed so poorly that the Newcastle manager changed to a three at the back system.
Ritchie is the only Newcastle winger to have had a productive season scoring twice and more importantly assisting five in the Premier League, however, he does have more bookings than combined direct goal contributions.
The other wingers have been poor. Kenedy, in particular, has disappointed the Newcastle fans since joining on a season-long-loan from Chelsea.
He has one goal and one assist in 23 appearances and in truth has not recovered since he missed a last minute penalty against Cardiff City back in August.
Since then his confidence appears to have vanished and he looks a shadow of the player that the Toon signed in January 2018 on a short term loan deal, as he scored two and assisted two in 13 appearances, but also provided really energy down Newcastle’s left.
Atsu is quick and works hard but his end-product is dreadful: the 27-year-old has made 24 appearances this season but has not contributed a goal or an assist. For a Premier League winger these stats are not acceptable.
The Ghanaian international is not good enough for the Premier League and he will need to be moved on in the summer.
How McNeil will fix the problem
An ideal replacement for Atsu or Kenedy would be McNeil, who has provided flair and pace to a pretty functional Burnley team, but more importantly end product.
The Rochdale-born winger has provided three goals and five assists in 17 appearances. This is more than Atsu and Kenedy have provided combined and a marginally better return that Ritchie.
Adding McNeil to the squad is unlikely to be cheap as he has just signed a new contract lasting until 2023 but, if Benitez did manage to sign him, Newcastle would be able to return to their 4-2-3-1 formation and with Ritchie and McNeil on the wings Rondon would receive a lot more quality service and inevitably score more goals.
The 19-year-old is a good-old-fashioned winger who aims to get to the by-line and whip crosses into the box, a quality which eludes all of Newcastle’s wingers bar Ritchie.
McNeil would probably relish the chance to move to Tyneside and work under a world-class manager, but the question for Toon fans will regard whether Mike Ashley will give Benitez the budget to bring the Burnley man to Newcastle?