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Scouting Report: Luuk de Jong – Newcastle United

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A little over eighteen months ago, Luuk de Jong was one of the brightest young talents in Europe after starring for FC Twente and getting into the Dutch Euro 2012 squad.  A host of clubs were chasing his signature with Borussia Mönchengladbach and Newcastle United heading the queue. His time at FC Twente ended sourly as de Jong appeared to force through a move to Germany to join Mönchengladbach. The move didn’t work out for de Jong as he failed to secure a place in the Gladbach starting eleven, as he scored only six league goals in 23 matches in his debut season. This campaign went even worse for the striker  as he played only 78 minutes for the German side, as he appeared to fall out with the manager Lucien Favre. This lack of game time saw the striker finally join Newcastle United on a loan with a view to a permanent.

Luke De Jong

After failing in Germany, many people may expect similar results for the striker in England, but the Premier League may be better suited to the forward. Graham Carr, the Newcastle chief scout, earmarked de Jong as being perfect for the Premier League, which is why they have rekindled their interest in the striker. The loan deal allows Newcastle to see if de Jong is the right fit going forward, while it also gives de Jong the motivation to work hard to secure a long term contract.

The Dutchman is a complete striker who can score any sort of goal, whether it be a 25-yard curler, an overhead kick or tapping one in on the line. He loves to operate as a poacher in the opposition box, which is rare amongst the new breed of strikers. Newcastle have struggled to score goals at times this season, only scoring in one of their last five matches, so Alan Pardew will help de Jong can help Loic Remy out on the goalscoring front. The other two strikers at the club, Shola Ameobi and Papiss Cisse, have only one league goal between them.

Standing at 6 ft 2 in, it may not be a surprise that de Jong is very strong in the air which will give Pardew another option if he needs to go direct. The striker is very adaptable as he can play as a target man, knocking balls down to midfield runners as well as operating as a poacher on the last man, which will allow Newcastle to change their style depending on the opposition. At times in Germany, de Jong was urging team-mates to put more balls into the box so he could use his aerial strength, but the style of play at Gladbach wasn’t geared around direct football. He will certainly have more chances at Newcastle to show his prowess in the air.

Newcastle could opt to swap between two systems with de Jong as the focal point. All of Ameobi, Cisse and Remy have struggled to play up front on their own as none of them have the attributes to do so. Ameobi hasn’t got the pace or the mobility to effectively lead the line, while Cisse and Remy struggle to hold the ball up. Pardew could choose to play 4-2-3-1 with Anita and Tiote as the pivot, behind Sissoko, Ben Arfa and Remy in his best position at left wing. This would allow the three attacking players to make runs beyond de Jong with all three having the pace and strength to do serious damage. While they could also opt for a 4-4-2 with either Remy or Cisse partnering de Jong. This system would benefit Cisse as it would give him a player to work off. Both of these systems have the potential to be successful as de Jong can be unselfish as he tries to bring his team-mates into the game as often as he can.

The Dutchman appears to have the right character for the Premier League after coming out this week stating he hopes to earn a contract beyond the summer at St James’ Park. This came after making his debut in a 0-3 defeat to Sunderland in the Tyne-Wear derby. If there was a match to put a player off Newcastle, it was this one, but it hasn’t affected de Jong which is positive for Pardew and the fans at Newcastle. It’s refreshing for a Newcastle on loan striker to pledge his desire to join the club permanently after Remy has refused to talk about his future beyond this season. The club could find themselves without a senior striker in the summer as Ameobi, Remy and Cisse all look like they will leave the club for different seasons. Cisse is the only one to have a contract beyond this summer, but he appears to be out of favour with the club touting him out to clubs in January.

The Dutchman has had a difficult eighteen months, but he now has the platform to perform in the Premier League on a regular basis. If he performs well, he will no doubt earn a permanent contract at the club and put himself in line to become the first choice striker at the club going into next season. If he bags between 5 and 10 goals in the second half of the season, the agreed buy out clause in his loan deal of £8m will be seen as a bargain. He is still only 23 and if he gets his career back on tract at St James Park, he’ll have a huge future ahead of him, it’s not down to the Newcastle coaching staff to get him back on track. And who knows, he could be a shock inclusion in the Dutch World Cup squad if his form improves.