Lee Charnley should seal a deal for Eintracht Frankfurt full-back Jetro Willems to return to Newcastle United amid speculative interest from the St. James’ Park outfit.
United are said to have made contact with relative parties to discuss a deal for the Dutchman to join Steve Bruce’s squad in the final days of the January transfer window, as the Magpies look to harden the head coach’s position despite being winless in 11 games.
Willems only returned to the Eintracht matchday squad for their 5-1 demolition of Arminia Bielefeld last weekend, but is understood to be fully fit and match-ready after 12-months out after rupturing his anterior cruciate in Newcastle’s 1-0 victory over Chelsea last January.
The £4m-rated beast is now inside the final six-months of his £35,000-per-week contract at Frankfurt after turning down the offer of a new deal, and is noted to have snubbed a move to PAOK this month as he favours a return to St. James’ Park.
Willems made 20 appearances for the Toon during his loan stay in the 2019/20 campaign, scoring twice and providing three assists, with Bruce saying “he did very well for us”. He is yet to play a single minute in any competition this season.
Eintracht had expected to sell Willems for between €10-12m (£9-10.5m) last summer but will now be forced to accept a cut-price fee to avoid losing him for nothing at the end of the season, with the left-back now able to discuss pre-contract agreements.
Just a month before his injury, Willems was determined to give Newcastle “no choice” but to buy him at the end of his season on loan. And while a year out of action will ensure there are no guarantees he is the same player, United should not hesitate to bring him back.
Willems had just begun to build a strong relationship with Allan Saint-Maximin on the left-hand of Bruce’s side before his blow, with the combination proving most lethal against Manchester United when they toyed with the Red Devils before the wing-back teed Matty Longstaff up to score the winner.
Willems and Saint-Maximin are also noted to be close off the pitch, and a return to St. James’ Park may do wonders for the squad’s morale with Bruce confirming that confidence is low after a run of six-straight defeats.
Newcastle have also struggled to see the best from £15m summer signing Jamal Lewis, whose form in black and white has often been at a lesser level than what the Toon saw from Willems in his Premier League appearances for the club.
Across 19 top-flight outings, Willems helped the Magpies keep two clean sheets after breaking up opposition attacks with 0.9 interceptions and 1.9 successful tackles a game. Lewis, after 17 games, has also helped to keep two shut outs, but his involvement has been less evident with 0.4 interceptions and 1.5 successful tackles, per SofaScore.
Willems kept things simple and cleared his line 2.0 times a game to Lewis’ 1.4, too, yet still brought play forward to offer support in attack with 1.1 successful dribbles with a 66% success rate to the former Norwich City full-back’s 0.6 with a 52% success rate.
Lewis’ efforts in the current campaign do not lag behind Willems’ from last season in every regard, with the 23-year-old currently offering 0.6 accurate crosses with a 34% accuracy rating to the Dutchman’s 0.3 with a 16% accuracy rating.
The pair are also well matched for times they have lost possession, caught opponents offside, errors committed that led to shots, touches of the ball and total passes played. Willems only marginally eclipses Lewis for shots (0.5 to 0.4) and key passes (0.8 to 0.6), too.
But if Willems is still the player he was a year ago, Newcastle Managing Director Charnley should see very few reasons why he should not bring the Frankfurt man back to Tyneside this month, as the upside to a bargain deal far outweigh the negatives.
AND in other news, Newcastle have landed a huge boost in their pursuit of a £4m-rated beast…