Former Newcastle United defender hails player that made 'major difference' for Eddie Howe

Former Newcastle United defender Nikos Dabizas has named his player of the season following a memorable 2021-22 campaign.

Dabizas – who made 130 Premier League appearances for The Magpies between 1998 and 2003 – has highlighted Joelinton as their big difference maker last season.

The Brazilian transformed from a misfiring forward to a powerhouse midfielder under Eddie Howe’s management and subsequently picked up the club’s player of the season award.

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And it’s a decision that has Dabizas’ seal of approval.

Newcastle player Joelinton reacts during the Premier League match between Manchester City and Newcastle United at Etihad Stadium on May 08, 2022 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

"It is fair to judge players on longevity, like in a big period of time, I don’t want to choose one from December (about Newcastle's player of the season),” the former Greece international said. "In my eyes, Joelinton was a major difference because he had a big price tag on his head."

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After arriving at Newcastle for a club record £40million fee from Hoffenheim in the summer of 2019, Joelinton is finally starting to live up to his price tag.

"When he was transferred, it was the most expensive transfer,” Dabizas told Betarades. “He was playing as a striker, he didn’t produce goals for maybe a couple of seasons. But he never resigned, he never put his head down.

Nikos Dabizas of Newcastle United protests during the UEFA Champions League, Group E match on October 1, 2002 between Juventus and Newcastle United played at the Stadio Delle Alpi in Turin, Italy. Juventus won the match 2-0. (Photo by Phil Cole/Getty Images)

"He stood up for the fight, and I think the key element in his performance is knowing that he plays as a number eight. As a, let’s say, attacking midfielder. But he helps a lot for the defence, as well.

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"He is a big lad, he wants to contribute to the defence, as well. So I think Joelinton is a big difference, because he was not a big favourite, but he turned things around."