Newcastle have a shot at Europe with Joelinton and Guimarães in midfield | Newcastle United

NOTNewcastle may be the richest football club in the game, but have been relatively quiet in the transfer market this summer. Far from splashing the cash, they have signed just three senior players – bringing in goalkeeper Nick Pope from Burnley for £10m, signing centre-back Sven Botman from Lille for £31.9m and making Matt Targett’s loan from Aston Villa permanent.

For the most part, Eddie Howe is going with the same side he picked in the second half of last season. Pope moved Martin Dubravka between the sticks for their season opener against Nottingham Forest on Saturday, but the 10 outfield starters were players who had been at the club last season. Dan Burn proved a superb addition to the core of the defense in January and he kept his place, with new signing Botman left on the bench until the 90th minute. Given Newcastle’s stealing form in 2022 – only Liverpool, Manchester City and Tottenham have collected more than their 41-point tally this year – Howe thinks there’s no need to fix something that isn’t. broken.

A key part of Newcastle’s good form this year has been their dynamic Brazilian midfield duo, Joelinton and Bruno Guimarães. Joelinton’s redeployment as a midfielder and subsequent rejuvenation was a huge success. After joining Newcastle from Hoffenheim as a striker in 2019, the Brazilian has struggled as a leader. He played in all 38 league games for Newcastle in his first season, but only scored twice.

Fans only saw the best of the 25-year-old when he returned to midfield. Joelinton is hardly prolific in front of goal – he scored just four league goals last season – but his influence on the team has grown considerably. Since Howe took charge last November, Joelinton has made more tackles (64) than any other player at the club, reveling in his transition from goal-shy striker to hard-working central midfielder.

Bruno Guimarães, who arrived in January, is second on this list for tackles, with 47. Newcastle caused a stir at the start of the year when they lured Guimarães to St James’ Park from Lyon. The Brazil international had dominated midfield in Ligue 1 and, with each passing week, the £33.5million Newcastle have spent to secure his services seems more like a bargain.

His all-round approach helped him fit in seamlessly with the team and quickly adapt to the rigors of Premier League football. With Howe favoring a 4-3-3 system, picking Joelinton and Guimarães side by side in midfield, they are tough to break. If you beat the Joelinton press, then Guimarães are there to steal the ball from you, and vice versa. With a full pre-season behind them, the pair were excellent in Newcastle’s first 2-0 win over Nottingham Forest. Both featured in our Premier League XI for the opening weekend and it was not a flash in the pan. Since Howe took over, Guimarães has been our highest ranked player in the Newcastle squad, with Joelinton third.

Joelinton takes on Nottingham Forest's Jesse Lingard in the Newcastle Opener.
Joelinton takes on Nottingham Forest’s Jesse Lingard in the Newcastle Opener. Photograph: Russell Cheyne/Reuters

The Newcastle manager has two workers who are strong in possession and out of possession. In defense, they do not give a moment’s rest to opposing midfielders. For a Newcastle side who were so easily bypassed before Howe’s appointment, this was a huge turnaround. When in possession, they carry the ball forward to help Newcastle swarm teams. They can both get past their opponents and get out of tight spots while beating a press from midfield. Guimarães completed five dribbles against Nottingham Forest, Joelinton taking four.

Newcastle fans are excited about the future. From struggling to stay in the Premier League under Mike Ashley to having a better record in 2022 than Arsenal and Chelsea, they’ve come a long way. Attention naturally turns to a potential return to European action.

Of course, the new owners have only had one full window to invest in the team and they could still go from strength to strength before the end of the month, with Lyon and Brazilian attacking midfielder Lucas Paquetá linked with a move to Newcastle. He would join a team with a strong midfield base. Newcastle have proven this year that they can compete with the Premier League’s big six. If Joelinton and Guimarães stay fit, Howe’s side could crush the European places this season.

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