Newcastle United manager Eddie Howe strengthened his team with a host of new signings throughout the January window.
The Magpies head coach was given the funds by PIF to make major additions to his squad in the form of Kieran Trippier, Chris Wood, Matt Targett, Bruno Guimaraes and Dan Burn.
These players, along with the existing playing roster, have propelled the Toon clear of relegation. They are 11 points above the bottom three in the Premier League with three games left to play and look set for another year in the top flight.
The focus may now turn to the summer transfer window and the players they want to bring in to take the team to the next level.
Earlier this season, it was reported that Newcastle are interested in landing Borussia Dortmund gem Axel Witsel at the end of the campaign with a contract offer of €7m (£6m) per season.
They have recently been handed a golden opportunity to go through with that, as the Belgian midfielder has confirmed that he will be a free agent this summer, stating earlier this month: “I’ll be gone next season. I am very happy that I have played here (Dortmund) for four years at the highest level. But I am sad to leave the club. I have many friends and great teammates here.”
Howe must now pounce on this chance to swoop for the enforcer, for whom Dortmund paid €20m (£17.1m), as he would be a superb addition to the Newcastle squad with his quality and experience at the top level.
Dortmund icon Marco Reus previously heaped praise on the Belgian battler, saying: “Axel has a lot of international experience as a number six and a number eight. He radiates calmness and self-confidence – in critical situations, too. Axel showed what he can do at the World Cup. He will make us better.”
These comments show how highly Witsel’s captain rates him, which is understandable when you look at his career. The 33-year-old has played a staggering 120 matches for Belgium at senior level and featured in more than 100 games for each of Dortmund, Zenit and Standard Liege.
Throughout his career, he has averaged an impressive WhoScored rating of 6.98 across 353 outings, making 2.9 tackles and interceptions per game. This shows that the holding midfielder has played to a high standard consistently over the course of many years, which is why he would be a fine player for Howe to call upon.
Imagine him and Bruno Guimaraes lining up in the Magpies’ midfield. Whilst Witsel can use his defensive quality and experience from him to shield the back four and keep things ticking over, the Brazilian can go forward to inject life into the attack.
The January signing has four goals and one assist in eight Premier League starts, and his attacking flair mixed with the Belgian’s nous can make for an exciting midfield partnership, which is why Newcastle must snap up the 33-year-old on a free transfer.
AND in other news, PIF prepared to make NUFC bid for “well-schooled” £17m tank, Howe would love him…