On Tuesday night, Newcastle striker Dwight Gayle once again flexed his goalscoring muscles, making light of Barnsley defence by grabbing a brace to take his season’s tally to 11 in as many games in the Championship.
The former Crystal Palace finisher has now scored a hat-trick once and a brace thrice this term, and what makes the goalscoring exploits more impressive is that he got the last 2 braces on the bounce.
At the rate with which the 26-year-old is finding the back of the net with reckless abandon, he won’t only likely end up as the division’s highest goalscorer by May, Newcastle will most probably emerge Championship champions off the back of his goals.
Gayle’s willingness to drop down a level from the top flight, leaving Selhurst Park for the Saint James Park in pursuit of regular playing time has turned out to be a successful gamble. Newcastle particularly scored a coup in prising him away from Alan Pardew’s side for just £10 million.
How Benitez managed to convince the English striker who just put pen to paper for a 4-year contract extension with Crystal Palace in April is not only deserving of praise, the Spaniard once again proved he is still a top tactician by pulling off a masterstroke with such marquee signing.
Only a few months ago, Benitez and Gayle were the butts of the many jokes. The former, for getting the sack at Real Madrid half way into the beginning of his tenure, and the latter for being a regular bench warmer who could only score 3 goals in 16 EPL appearances.
Who’s laughing now?
After 13 league games, Newcastle sits on top of the table with 28 points and have scored a massive 27 goals – the highest and conceded 11 goals – the joint 2nd least in the Championship.
This is in stark comparison to last season when the team struggled in the final third, with the combined striking trio of Aleksandar Mitrovic, Ayoze Perez and Papiss Cisse only bagging 18 goals in between them, while free-scoring midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum was the club’s highest goal scorer with a return of 11 goals.
Right now, Newcastle have finally landed themselves a proven goal machine, one who’s not only capable of leading the team back to the EPL, but equally capable of keeping them in the top flight and even helping them challenging for a top-8 spot.
The goals won’t be drying up anytime soon, and Gayle has a very high chance of not only hitting the 20-goal mark but also surpassing it. With 33 games still go, hitting 9 goals isn’t the most difficult milestone to reach, and those goals are sure to come from those lethal boots of his.
Considering he arrived for such a fee – a measly amount in football’s new world of ridiculously mega-money deals, it couldn’t be agreed more that his acquisition is definitely one of the best businesses Newcastle have done in recent times. Dwight Gayle isn’t just an instant solution to Newcastle’s goal-scoring problems, he is a long-term one, and they will be reaping the benefits for a couple of seasons to come.