Dutch international Siem de Jong arrived on Tyneside last summer in a £6million move from Ajax, with a buzz of excitement behind him because of his reputation as a genuine goal scoring midfielder.
He did score for Newcastle alright, but only once, during a measly four league outings. Injuries crippled the Dutchmen’s inaugural campaign in England as an early thigh problem kept him side-lined for five months and, as he was about to make his return to the Newcastle squad, a collapsed lung kept him out for a further eight weeks.
Issues for De Jong
Ostensibly, the supporters' excitement was palpable upon the stars arrival; the intrigue for a foreign import's debut spawns anticipation every time. Unfortunately, De Jong never got to experience such a fever.
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The Dutchman missed last week’s defeat to Swansea City with a minor shin injury, prompting fans to worry the worst isn’t behind the number ten.
However, De Jong was back in the squad for today's game away at Manchester United and his imminent return is cause to rejoice.
Newcastle need him
The Magpies have been painfully bereft of creativity or reliable source of goals from midfield since Yohan Cabaye’s departure back in January 2014.
With Hatem Ben Arfa’s acrimonious parting further debilitating the Toon offense, Moussa Sissoko and Yoan Gouffran finished the season on the flanks resembling two workaholics who were creatively scarce.
Florian Thauvin’s arrival is another inventive outlet in an otherwise dour squad, which unfortunately came at the expense of one of the few glimmers of tricky lights, Remy Cabella.
The return of the... king?
But, De Jong’s return to the fold should be the most compelling link in the whole arsenal. From Jack Colback patrolling in front of the back four to the workmen like Cheick Tiote and Vurnon Anita in front of him, De Jong can be the all-important link between the midfield and forwards that has so often been abundantly absent.
De Jong has that desirable habit of scoring goals that every manager hopes for in a midfielder. The 26-year-old reached double figures for Ajax five seasons in a row prior to his final campaign in the Netherlands, bringing his grand total to just under one every three games – a reputable return by any stretch.
De Jong, who was actually born in Switzerland before heading to Holland aged five, is a six time Dutch international who also boasts two goals; keeping up his one every three record.
Vurnon Anita, Tim Krul and Gigi Wijnaldum have been called up for Holland’s forthcoming international fixtures, and with Daryl Janmaat also vying for a place in the Oranje set-up, De Jong is at least inundated with compatriots as he seeks to bed into the Newcastle line-up.
He can fit in
Manager Steve McClaren has favoured the 4-3-3 formation thus far, with Anita and Colback acting as a protective, flat two behind the advanced Wijnaldum.
De Jong is clearly suited to aiding the transition from the midfield to forwards and with the likes of Ayoze Perez, Rolando Aarons, Gabriel Obertan and new boy Thauvin flanking him, stars like Sissoko and Wijnaldum should be used in more familiar, effective roles.
The talent appears to be there going forward. The onus will now fall on McClaren and his staff to keep them fit and find the correct formula – where De Jong will undoubtedly be essential.
Newcastle United fans, are you excited to see De Jong in action regularly? Let us know in the comments box below.