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Pre-season provides the opportunity for fringe players, players who are not in the manager’s plans and those who have returned from loan deals away to impress the manager and strive to be part of the team again.
Although they are expected to depart, Rafa Benitez will be watching the likes of Henri Saivet, Emmanuel Riviere and Tim Krul with a close eye for anything that may bring them into the first-team fold again.
One player in particular who is eager to entertain is Siem de Jong, who also fits into the mentioned category.
De Jong arrived at Tyneside in the summer of 2014 from Dutch giants Ajax. He was highly rated and was finally set to be the replacement for talisman Yohan Cabaye, who left Newcastle to join PSG earlier that year.
The Dutchman has had an injury-tampered spell at St James’ Park, resulting in limited appearances and time out on loan, as well as hindering his progression.
Fans have not seen much of de Jong at all, considering he has been with us for three years. He made only five appearances throughout his first season due to injury.
In the 2015/16 season, he made 18 league appearances and looked considerably promising at times, however he sat out the second half of the season, again through injury. De Jong spent last season on loan at PSV Eindhoven and established himself to be a regular for the Dutch outfit.
Rafa is rumoured to be in the market for a new attacking midfielder, and as the window has shown to be difficult thus far, it is worth asking if Siem de Jong can fit the role Rafa is looking to fit.
Intelligent player, who starred for Ajax
De Jong primarily operates in the number 10 role just behind the striker. He has been described as an intelligent player with great vision and awareness of the game; someone ideal for the Premier League.
Prior to moving to England, de Jong enjoyed much success with Ajax. He captained the team and won the Dutch title four times in a row as well as participating in the Champions League. He is also no stranger to English opposition.
He was a menace to Manchester City during the 2012/13 Champions League, scoring once at home and twice away against the Citizens, which resulted in concrete recognition among English clubs.
Stand-out pre-season performer
Siem will hope himself that he deserves another shot for us in the Premier League, after all he is contracted until 2020. In the recent pre-season friendly against Hearts, the Dutchman was interestingly one of our most stand-out players.
He impressed with his vision and passing ability, which was highlighted by his assist for Dwight Gayle’s first goal; de Jong picked up the ball in his own half, turned and quickly released an inch-perfect through ball for Gayle to run onto and finish.
All game he was attempting to pick out Gayle’s runs in behind; indicative of a potential partnership should de Jong remain. Although it was against Hearts – a team in the substandard Scottish Premiership – de Jong’s talent and desire to make an impact was there for all to see.
Must deliver now
At 28 years old, now is the time for the attacking midfielder to really deliver. We hope that de Jong will reach the peak of his career for us if he stays as he can still improve under Rafa.
There is no doubt that we would all like to see a new number 10 signed, and it does look likely with many a name being linked. Even if another attacking midfielder does arrive, keeping de Jong will provide competition as well as cover.
The competition may even bring the best out of Siem; after all, he does have a lot to prove.
Written by Dawud Arshad
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