Eddie Howe’s found a £40m player who can improve Newcastle United
Joelinton is a lot of things, but he’s not a £40million striker.
And that was the problem for Joelinton, who joined the club in the summer of 2019 as a No.9.
That iconic shirt wasn’t the right fit for Joelinton, who toiled up front during Steve Bruce’s first season as manager. Joelinton wasn’t a replacement for Salomon Rondon, an accomplished striker who had spent the previous season on loan at St James’s Park.
Bruce – who often talked about Joelinton’s ability to play on the left, having seen him play there for former club Hoffenheim – was never able to get the best out of the Brazilian.
Fans saw glimpses of his talent – and potential – but the move, and his £40million fee, baffled many given Mike Ashley’s reluctance to spend during his time as owner. It didn’t look a good deal.
Joelinton’s first season didn’t go well, though his physicality and technical ability, the qualities that will have attracted the attention of head of recruitment Steve Nickson, were evident.
Frustratingly, Joelinton didn’t attack the box. He was too unselfish to be an out-and-out striker, and the arrival of Callum Wilson last year took some of the pressure off him.
Wilson took the No.9 jersey, and Joelinton only started 23 Premier League games last season.
Howe quickly recognised Joelinton’s qualities after succeeding Bruce. Speaking soon after joining the club, United’s head coach said: "From what I've seen in training so far, he's a technical player, very good feet, intelligent.
"Obviously, the size that he is as well helps from various perspectives. I think he's got a real talent, a real ability. Unlocking that, and making sure we can all see that, playing him in the right position, these are all things that I'm going to have to make assessments on, but, certainly, he's going to have a big part in our future here."
It didn’t take Howe long to “unlock” Joelinton’s talent.
The 25-year-old has been a powerhouse in midfield in recent weeks. He’s brought both his physicality and technical ability to bear in midfield – and driven the team up the pitch.
Joelinton was “outstanding” in Monday night’s 1-1 draw against Manchester United.
“First and foremost, he's given me everything as in, he's really bought into what we've tried to do,” said Howe. "He's worked incredibly hard for his team and his team-mates. I thought his performances have been very consistent, I think he's been outstanding.
"Defensively the job we asked him to do was very, very good. He's delivered an outstanding performance based on a very high level of understanding, which is so rare when you consider he's performed the majority of his career in a different position.
"But also his technical quality, in tight areas he's able to receive the ball and find his way out of really difficult situations, that has been very, very good.”
Sean Longstaff’s post-game comments were even more revealing.
"We know how good Joelinton is – and the disrespect he gets is a disgrace,” said the midfielder.
“Every day in training he's the best player, and if you get him on your team in training, you're buzzing because you'll always win.”
Joelinton has earned the respect of team-mates and supporters alike, and he looks a £40million midfielder now.