Who Is This £12.8m Benitez Target That Newcastle Are Trying To Sign? Everything You Need To Know

Dennis Praet
Dennis Praet

Scout Report – Dennis Praet

Newcastle United are chasing the signature of Sampdoria midfielder Dennis Praet and have launched a bid in order to sign him, according to reports from The Sun.

The Magpies have endured a difficult start to life back in the Premier League, losing their first two games against Tottenham Hotspur and Huddersfield Town respectively. There have been signs of frustration from manager Rafael Benitez over the lack of backing from the owners in the transfer market.

The 23-year old Belgian attacking midfielder had a very good season in the Serie A for the Blucerchiati and emerged as one of the club’s best players last campaign. With Newcastle set to make an approach for Praet, here we take a closer look at who exactly Praet is and what he will be offering to the Toon, if signed.

Footballing Background 

Born on 14 May, 1993, in Leuven, Belgium, Praet started off his footballing journey with local club Stade Leuven in 2000 and joined OH Leuven a couple of years later, before moving to the KRC Genk academy in 2003 as an eight-year old.  

The attacking midfielder was thought of highly at Genk, as he rose through the youth ranks. However, in 2010, he turned down lucrative offers in favour of a move to Belgian giants RSC Anderlecht. He started off with the Anderlecht U-19 side, with whom he won the best player award in the AEGON Future Cup in 2011, in which the likes of Barcelona and Ajax participated as well.  

Praet made his debut for the senior team in September 2011, in a Belgian Cup tie against Lommel United and made immediate impact, grabbing two assists. He became a regular in the senior side the following season, and went on to become one of the finest attacking midfielders in the Belgian league, racking up a large number of goals and assists year after year. 

In January 2015, the 23-year old was awarded with the Belgian Golden Shoe, a recognition given to the best player in Belgium in the previous calendar year. After another stellar season in 2015/16, he was signed by Sampdoria last summer. Praet departed Anderlecht having scored 27 goals and 39 assists in 182 appearances.  

In his debut season with Sampdoria, the Belgian made 32 appearances in the Serie A, finding the back of the net once and grabbing a solitary assist. He has played twice this season, once each in the league and the Italian cup. 

The 23-year old has represented the Belgian national team at all youth levels, starting from the U-15s to the U-21s. He made his senior debut in November 2014, in a 3-1 win over Iceland, but that was the last time he played. 

Style Of Play 

A central attacking midfielder primarily, Praet can also play in an orthodox No.8 role and has been used on either flank as a winger at times during his career at Anderlecht.

In all sense a modern No.10, Praet embodies all the traits that a creative playmaker needs to possess. Excellent vision, combined with top-notch technical ability along with strong dribbling skills to go with, the Belgian international has all the ingredients to grow into a world class playmaker. Add to that, a mature head on his shoulders, and you have a player ready to take on the big stage.

His ability to exploit the spaces between the lines and play the defence-splitting passes to create chances for his teammates is the biggest strength of his. Praet may not possess the necessary defensive traits, but is a team player and works hard off the ball in pressing the opponents, and is a very good reader of the game as well.

What Does The Future Hold?

Praet is valued at around £12.5million at the moment, but still has four years left on his contract, which leaves Sampdoria in a strong position. However, the Sun claims that a bid in the region of £15million could get the Serie A club to sell.  

Newcastle lack a natural playmaker who can sit in the hole and dictate play and in Praet, they will be getting a player who has good amount of experience despite his young age. His creative abilities and the goal-scoring knack from midfield could prove to be the difference for the Magpies come the end of the season.

Written by Raghavendra Goudar

Mechanical Engineer, avid reader and a football fanatic.

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