The Magpies have finally secured a victory in the Premier League and the mood around the club has never been better. After grinding out a hard fought 1-0 victory over a heavily inconsistent Leeds United, Newcastle are now working towards a grand-stand finish to the transfer window. Newcastle have already secured the marquee signing of English International Kieran Trippier and bolstered their defense. Further forward, the Toons have secured the signature of Chris Wood & added a focal point to their attacking play. It seems that every player on the market has been linked with a move to St. James’ Park in one way or the other. Although most of the links are fallacious in nature, there has been some positive movement with regards to incomings.
Eddie Howe is desperate to sign an attacking midfielder & another defender to bolster his squad. As a result the Magpies are desperately pursuing the Manchester United midfielder Jesse Lingard on a loan deal till the end of the season. Lingard has struggled to secure regular playing time at Old Trafford & is low down the pecking order at a club where his contract expires at the end of this season. Although they are making significant progress in their pursuit of Lingard, they don’t plan to stop. A certain Spanish fullback has also been linked with a move to North-Western England & let us try to analyze this possible deal.
Who is Alex Grimaldo?
Alex Grimaldo is a Spanish left-back who is currently playing for Portugese giants Benfica. Alex came through the renowned La Masia at Barcelona & made over 200 appearances for the Barcelona B team. His ball playing ability was fairly evident during the initial days of his playing career but his path to the Barcelona first team was always destined to be a bumpy ride. Grimaldo’s rise in the Barcelona academy came at a time when a certain Spanish fullback was running the show on the left side of the defense. His name was, Jordi Alba! With Barcelona refusing to offer Alex a contract extension, he made a tough choice & decided to permanently leave the club. Benfica wrapped up his signature in the summer of 2016 in a deal worth 1.5 million euros. Barcelona will eventually collect a percentage of the total amount if he ever decides to move on from Benfica, something that looks likely to happen.
Newcastle’s left fullback conundrum
Alex Grimaldo is a potential target for the Magpies as they look to find a replacement for Matt Ritchie. Eddie Howe has identified the defense as the major achilles heel in the squad. Having already secured the signature of Kieran Tripper, the right fullback situation looks solid. Newcastle are also pursuing the signing of Diego Carlos, the Sevilla centre-back, in order to form a solid defensive partnership with Jamal Lascelles. The left fullback situation is something that has troubled their build up play for a long time & it needs to be addressed as soon as possible.
Matt Ritchie has now cemented his position as the first choice left-back at the club. Xavier Manquillo is another player who can slot in at that position but both these players have failed to impress in a consistent manner. Matt Ritchie is someone who made a name for himself at Bournemouth with his attacking prowess on the left wing and therefore he is nothing short of a defensive liability. For a team like Newcastle, they are well aware of the fact that they won’t see a lot of ball possession. In such a situation, defending with a low block becomes troublesome if your fullback is nothing but a passenger while defending.
Furthermore, Ritchie’s attacking displays have also failed to impress as he has provided underwhelming deliveries into the box for the likes of Callum Wilson. Ritchie is also unable to link up play on the left wing with the likes of Saint- Maximain & Joelinton which has caused major problems for the Magpies. This is where Alex Grimaldo can play a big part.
How he fits in & where does the deal stand?
After assessing Newcastle’s problems in the left fullback situation, it’s clear that Alex Grimaldo can play a major role in their bid for Premier League survival. Alex has the potential to slot in into the Magpies first 11 & thrive at St. James’ Park. Having made more than a 150 appearances for Benfica, his experience of playing regular first team football is something that can help the team. His ball playing ability, unsurprising for a player who came through La Masia is something that is desperately needed for that Newcastle squad. Alex can link up play with the wingers & his deliveries into the box are a treat to watch. Eddie Howe focuses on playing out from the back and whipping balls into the box for Chris Wood & Callum Wilson once he recovers from injury. With Trippier on the right wing & potentially Alex on the left, Newcastle will add a cutting edge to their attacking play.
Newcastle are plotting a 17 million euros move for the player who has also been touted for a return to the Camp Nou. Barcelona are currently pursuing the signature of Nicolas Tagliafico & have lined up Grimaldo as a potential backup if they fail to sign Tagliafico. It’s hard to imagine Alex rejecting a move back to Barcelona & thus his move to Newcastle potentially depends on whether the Blaugrana pull the trigger on the deal for their first choice target. But if Newcastle manage to secure his signature then one thing’s for sure, he will add a lot of quality to a reeling squad.