Why Newcastle should make it a priority to secure the future of Ki Sung-yueng
Newcastle United’s start to life in the Premier League under new manager Steve Bruce can hardly be termed as spectacular and it has been pretty evident from the team’s performances in the opening stages of the ongoing campaign that they still have plenty of work to do.
The Toon Army currently find themselves marooned 14th in the Premier League standings with only a solitary win from their first four fixtures heading into the international break and the fans haven’t been lucky enough to witness any sort of improvement from how the club went about things under Rafael Benitez in the previous campaign.
Having suffered a 3-1 demolition at the hands of newly-promoted Norwich City, few would have given Bruce’s side any realistic chance of coming away with a positive result against Spurs, but the Magpies produced nothing short of a miracle to bag all three points.
Looking back at the club’s transfer business in the summer, Newcastle came out of their old habits and splashed the cash heavily to bring in Joelinton and Allan Saint-Maximin following the departure of Benitez.
Agreed, those additions certainly enriched Newcastle’s attacking reserves but it was never going to be possible for Bruce to plug all the gaps in a single transfer window, particularly with the club’s shoestring budget.
Indeed, the fans would have liked to welcome a few more fresh faces in the summer and, while they might eventually have their wish granted during the mid-season trading period in January, the club hierarchy should certainly look to secure the future of some of the existing players in the squad.
Central midfield is one area where Newcastle still have a few issues to sort out. Isaac Hayden’s decision to pledge his future to the club in the summer is definitely a big positive for the Magpies but they are still somewhat light in their options following the departure of Mo Diame.
With Jonjo Shelvey’s future still hanging in the balance, the Magpies need to ensure that they retain the services of Ki Sung-yueng, who is out of contract next summer.
The vastly experienced Korean maestro often goes under the radar but Newcastle should be aware that the 30-year-old is still very much capable of doing the job in the middle of the park when called into action.
Ki has only played a bit-part role since his arrival from Swansea City last summer due to the flourishing midfield partnership of Hayden and Sean Longstaff, although that has a lot to do with the tactics used by Benitez and Bruce.
The former Celtic man, who started in the 3-1 defeat away at Norwich City this term, has found himself on the bench more often than not, with Bruce preferring Hayden and Longstaff to do the dirty work in central midfield.
However, it is worth mentioning here that, despite the duo showing a good level of proficiency in keeping the opposition at bay in the middle of the park, they haven’t looked very comfortable when it comes to retaining possession, often leaving something to be desired with their ball distribution.
Indeed, both Longstaff and Hayden are tough-tackling midfielders with well-rounded attributes to thrive in the Premier League but someone like Ki Sung-yueng is a better pick when it comes to providing that sense of reliability and calmness.
As well as his ability to retain possession, the Korean is arguably the best passer of the ball in the club’s ranks and his experience at the highest level is likely to come in handy for the Magpies in the foreseeable future, with the future of some of the other players yet to be completely sorted out.
Longstaff was heavily linked with a move to Man United in the summer and, although a move never materialized, Newcastle might find it hard to hold on to their prized academy star in the future should the big guns come knocking on the door for his services.
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To sum it up, unsung hero Ki might not be the most popular face in Newcastle’s starting eleven but the Magpies need to tie him down to a new deal before the end of the season for a number of reasons.