The Palace midfielder is in red-hot form…
Newcastle United have now completed their seasonal odyssey for Champions League qualification and must now fix their attention on making astute movements in the transfer market to effectively bolster the squad ahead of the new campaign.
The Magpies ended years of turmoil under the ownership of the loathed Mike Ashley when a Saudi-led consortium completed a £300m takeover in October 2021, swiftly ascending from relegation trouble to a comfortable mid-table finish last year before exceeding expectations this term.
Indeed, Newcastle have secured a top-four place with a game to spare, but the foundations have barely been laid when considering the club’s grand stratagems, and reliable reports suggest first-rate quality is being targeted across the offensive flanks, central defence and midfield this summer.
The midfield, in particular, is attracting a lot of attention, and Crystal Palace star Eberechi Eze is one of the latest to find themselves whirling around the rumour mill, with Spanish outlet AS stating that the mercurial midfielder has been earmarked.
Eze has been in stellar form of late and has attracted the attention of other Premier League outfits including Tottenham Hotspur, and with an affordable fee of €30m (£26m) touted, United must act with conviction to ensnare their man.
What is Eze’s style of play?
Having flourished in the Championship with QPR, Eze completed a £20m transfer to Crystal Palace in 2020 and has since been an exciting component to a steady top-flight outfit, hailed as “magic” by former Eagles teammate Christian Benteke.
This term, Eze has enjoyed his most prolific season to date, scoring ten goals and providing four assists from 37 divisional outings as he continues to blossom in the latter phases of the campaign – netting six times from his past eight games.
His progress had previously been hampered by a severe Achilles tendon injury suffered in May 2021, which confined him to just six starts across the entirety of the 2021/22 Premier League campaign.
Nevertheless, he’s back with a resounding bang this term, and his talismanic presence over the past several weeks has been imperative to steering Palace away from the pit of the Premier League table – before Roy Hodgson assumed the reins once again in March to expunge the threat of relegation altogether.
The £30k-per-week star ranks among the top 1% of midfielders across Europe’s top five leagues for rate of non-penalty goals over the past year, as well as the top 7% for shot-creating actions, the top 16% for successful take-ons and the top 2% for successful take-ons per 90, illustrating the threat that he imposes on the opposition as a box-surging, destructive central force – almost a mezzala for his efficacy in drifting to the offensive right flank.
He would offer a different, but perhaps just as propitious, threat to James Maddison, who has also been linked with a move to St James’ Park this summer after United’s technical director Dan Ashworth failed in his bid to acquire the dynamic midfielder from Leicester City last season, unsuccessfully mounting a £50m bid.
Maddison is facing relegation from the Premier League with Leicester City, who are inside the bottom three with just one match to play and two points behind Everton, but the 26-year-old has maintained an attacking prowess throughout his team’s tumultuous year, scoring ten goals and providing nine assists from 29 matches.
The two-cap England international, who can play across a range of positions, both centrally and out wide, ranks among the top 11% of attacking midfielders and wingers for assists, the top 10% for shot-creating actions and the top 13% for progressive passes, and it may come down to whether Ashworth and co decide that Eze’s blistering approach or Maddison’s more nuanced and dynamic skill set is preferred.
Should 24-year-old Eze be the man picked for the job, he could even blossom into every bit the star Maddison currently is, perhaps even eclipsing the Foxes phenom.