Why Lisandro Lopez Would Be A Good Signing For Newcastle United
Premier League newbies Newcastle United are set to make a move for defender Lisandro Lopez from Portuguese club SL Benfica claims O Jogo (h/t The Sun).
The 28-year old defender isn’t a part of the plans for the future for the Portuguese champions, prompting them to consider a sale and last season’s EFL Championship title winners are set to swoop for the defender.
Newcastle earned promotion back to the English top division, courtesy of their title triumph. But having returned to the Premier League, they have had to endure a frustrating off-season. Manager Rafael Benitez had made his intentions clear of bringing in players early and getting the transfers done before the team headed out for pre-season, but that hasn’t been the case as only Christian Atsu has arrived at the St. James’ Park, with the club having lost out on several potential targets.
Benitez is keen on adding experience to his relatively inexperienced and young backline ahead of next season. While captain Jamaal Lascelles and Ciaran Clark did strike up a good partnership at the heart of the defence, there are question marks over Lascelles’ quality to make the grade in the Premier League. With Grant Hanley set for an exit and Chancel Mbemba’s future also looking bleak, it makes total sense that the Tynesiders are on the hunt for a new centre-half.
Lisandro Lopez arrived at Benfica in the summer of 2013 and was immediately loaned out to Spanish La Liga side Getafe. Having impressed in Spain, he forced his way into the Benfica setup in the 2014 season, but never established himself as a regular member of the team. As a result, he made 46 appearances for the Eagles his three seasons at the club.
Last season, Lopez took the field on 19 occasions for Benfica in all competitions – only 6 of them being league starts, in which he managed to find the back of the net on 4 occasions and also set up 2 more.
Tall and imposing at 6ft 2in, Lopez is strong in the air and good on the ground with his tackling. He also has that ability to spot the danger and make crucial interventions. Composed in pressure situations, he brings a sense of calm to the backline. In the current era where ball playing defenders are worth in gold, Lopez has demonstrated decent abilities with the ball at his feet and possesses an impressive range of distribution as well (last season he averaged a total of 54.1 passes per game and had a great accuracy of 84.3%).
He may not have been able to establish himself as the first-choice at Benfica, but he will have gained valuable experience having been part of the title winning squad for three seasons running. And he fits the profile of the defender Benitez is in the market for – experienced, technically sound, and dominant.
Despite his contract running until 2021, Benfica are willing to part ways with Lopez and the player himself will be keen on getting more playing time in a World Cup year, so that he can break into the Argentine national team and add to his 4 appearances.
He may not be the biggest of the names, he may not have been a regular for the Portuguese champions, but he certainly has the abilities to make a difference for Newcastle and could turn out to be a good signing by Benitez.