Newcastle United Opinion: Baptiste Santamaria the right man for Magpies
Newcastle United has an extremely underwhelming first half of the season. They were in relegation zone for large chunks of the season and even with a squad that’s far deeper than some of the other strugglers.
Rafa Benitez has become a fan favourite among the Toon Army for his exploits at the club since making the switch to St.James’ Park. While he did guide them to a very commendable 10th place finish last season, things have been quite different for the Magpies this term.
Currently in 16th place, their struggles are mainly due to their apparent dislike of scoring goals. Even with quality players like Salomon Rondón and Ayoze Perez in their ranks, they’ve been unable to make a real impression on Premier League followers.
The one exception to this trend was when they did Liverpool a favour by notching up an almost unbelievable victory against Manchester City. That victory was down mostly to their midfield ruggedness and although City had all the ball that day, the Magpies’ grit carried them through.
They are a side that have been riddled with injuries all season with key players missing at important times. The knocks to Kenedy and Jonjo Shelvey couldn’t have come at worse times for Rafa Benitez who has done a reasonable job with the resources available to him.
Issac Hayden and Sean Longstaff have both stepped up to the plate for Newcastle and have both shown themselves in a very good light. While this could mean good news for the fans, if they were to perform consistently, then it could be just a matter of time before the big clubs come calling.
For this reason, Newcastle should make a move to sign a top quality defensive-midfielder who is able to link up the play while ably providing cover to the defenders. If there was one player in football handmade for this role, this it is Baptiste Santamaria.
The 23-year-old Frenchman currently plies his trade for Ligue 1’s 12th placed side Angers and is a product of the Tours youth academy. He has also represented France at the U20 level during his younger days having made 3 appearances for the side.
His ability on the ball are now well renowned in the French football scene and while he is still only 23, he shows excellent maturity on the pitch. Often found somewhere in the centre circle, he is an excellent passer of the ball and plays a crucial part of launching attacks for Angers.
His defensive capacities are very good too and he is also a massive presence in either box. He has scored once for the club this season as well from his 25 league appearances. Other than being a holding midfielder, he is also capable of playing on the flanks and is quite tricky with the ball at his feet.
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Overall, this move makes a lot of sense for either party and with the boy still only 23, he has a lot of development ahead of him. Rafa Benitez is one of the most experienced managers still coaching in football and under his guidance, the Frenchman can seriously go a long way.