Newcastle United target Lewis O’Brien turned in his worst performance in almost a year as the Huddersfield Town midfielder struggled to inspire a win at Watford on Saturday.
Reports by Football Insider have claimed the Magpies are one of a clutch of Premier League sides eying a January transfer for O’Brien, with the Terriers said to be open to cashing in for the right price.
It is alleged that Sheffield United and Crystal Palace are also interested, while Burnley have been linked after nothing materialised of the Clarets’ interest last summer.
O’Brien is regarded as one of the prize assets at the John Smith’s Stadium and has now started to be shopped around, as Huddersfield strive to secure a buyer after hiring a top agency to headhunt suitors (Print edition of The Sun, 17/1, p. 59).
A move to St. James’ Park could see O’Brien fill a void that Steve Bruce is rumoured to be seeking answers for, with Newcastle thought to be in the market for a new box-to-box midfielder as the Toon chief strives to bring more energy to the Magpies’ core.
O’Brien was far from the star of the show at Watford on Saturday where Huddersfield fell to a 2-0 defeat, with Yorkshire Live claiming that the 22-year-old brought a hard-working presence to Carlos Corberan’s side but noting that his efforts were only acceptable before the Hornets took the lead.
After that, O’Brien’s absence of a forward threat left him and his side wanting and needing more, as the Terriers succumbed to their 11th defeat in 24 Championship fixtures to sit nine points down on the lowest-ranked play-off side.
It was O’Brien’s worst performance in almost a year judging by his SofaScore match ratings, having achieved a lowly 6.3 at Vicarage Road, which only a 6.1 at home to Queens Park Rangers last February sits below. The Rs affair came shortly after two 5.7-worthy performances, too.
O’Brien scored so poorly as the third-worst visiting player at Watford having failed to deliver a single key ball from his 36 accurate passes, while misplacing 11 for a 77% completion rate. The £2.5m-rated midfielder’s efforts were, in fact, below the Huddersfield average of 79% and far below the team average for long balls (50%) having misplaced all three of his efforts.
But his overall passing accuracy was on par for his performances this season, after offering a 78% completion rate over his 20 outings, of which he’s started 17, in the Championship to date, with 28.9 accurate efforts a game.
Defensively, O’Brien was poor, as well, as the £3,000-per-week Terriers product was dribbled past during two of his three attempted tackles and made no clearances, against a side which is striving to secure their return to the Premier League after losing 20 of their top-flight fixtures last term.
He further failed to take a single shot for the sixth-straight second-tier game too, to perhaps prove to Bruce and Newcastle that he is far from the man who the Toon need if they are to sign anyone in the January transfer window to hopefully offer a midfield presence both in attack and defence.
Shots from central midfield is a clear area where United should be looking to improve this month, with Jonjo Shelvey (1.6) the only current Newcastle player to be offering more than a shot a game, and he is also the only Magpie midfielder to offer over one key pass a game (1.4), per WhoScored.
Judging by his shooting stats, added to his poor game against a relegated side, it looks like O’Brien may not be at the standard of player that Newcastle need.
AND in other news, a £2m-rated Newcastle target’s potential has been questioned by his current side.