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Newcastle: Eddie Howe played a masterclass with Lucas Digne

Newcastle United head coach Eddie Howe pulled off a masterclass back in January during his first transfer window in charge of the club.

The Magpies were on the lookout for a player to start at left-back in the second half of the season and then-Everton gem Lucas Digne was on their list of targets.

Luke Edwards, of The Telegraph, reported that the Frenchman and Romain Perraud were two of the players being eyed up by Eddie Howe to take Jamal Lewis’ position in the team.

They ultimately avoided a deal for Digne, though, and he ended up signing for their Premier League rivals Aston Villa in a deal worth around £25m.

Ironically, this opened the door for Newcastle to sign Matt Targett on loan from Steven Gerrard’s side on deadline day, as the former Toffees full-back pushed him down in the pecking order.

In the second half of last season, the Englishman averaged a WhoScored rating of 6.99 for the Magpies as he put in consistently strong performances at left-back, making 4.2 tackles and interceptions per match.

Digne, meanwhile, averaged a rating of 6.94 as he made 2.2 tackles and interceptions per game in 16 starts for Gerrard’s men in the top flight.

This led to Newcastle signing Targett on a permanent deal in the summer, with the Magpies paying a reported fee of £12m to snap him up from Villa Park.

He has been solid in his appearances so far this term and is averaging 3.4 tackles and interceptions per game and a WhoScored rating of 6.82 in the Premier League, featuring in five matches to date.

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The Villa man, however, has struggled this season. He has averaged a rating of 6.56 and this suggests that the quality of his displays on the pitch have taken a nosedive since 2021/22, whilst the Toon gem has outperformed him considerably.

The Daily Telegraph’s Matt Law recently described Villa’s decision to sell Targett and replace him with Digne as “questionable” and the statistics suggest that it has been a poor piece of business by them.

Newcastle’s left-back has been putting in better performances on the pitch, is two years younger, and cost £13m less than the France international.

Therefore, Howe played a masterclass with that position as he avoided a costly mistake, in Digne, and picked up a bargain by snapping up Targett, albeit initially on loan, from the club that signed the player they wanted at first. From both a financial and footballing perspective, the head coach pulled off a blinder with this series of events.

Article title: Newcastle: Eddie Howe played a masterclass with Lucas Digne

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