Steve Bruce will not discover Newcastle United’s next Yohan Cabaye by bringing FC Schalke 04 midfielder Nabil Bentaleb back to St. James’ Park.
According to the Chronicle, the Toon have been offered the chance to re-sign Bentaleb in the upcoming January window as he strives to put a torrid Veltins Arena ordeal in the past.
Schalke are expected to accept nominal fees for Bentaleb in the mid-season market and may yet allow the 26-year-old to leave for free, having seen Newcastle fail to meet their £8.5million demands this summer following his half-season spell on loan.
Bruce was keen to retain Bentaleb following the expiration of his temporary deal, though opted to look elsewhere due to budget constraints and the midfielder’s high wage demands.
United may look to bring Bentaleb back to St. James’ Park, with the Mirror (06/12, p73) also citing Fulham and the Magpies as two Premier League outfits weighing up approaches, while the Chronicle note most activity will be in the loan market for plug-and-play types.
The Chronicle’s football editor Mark Douglas believes Newcastle will be in the market for a new central midfielder this winter as Bruce is in need of a new box-to-box presence that can evoke memories of Cabaye, Kevin Nolan and Georginio Wijnaldum. Bentaleb is not that.
Beyond the reasons for his suspension at Schalke, Bentaleb did not reach any great heights in black and white during his half-season spell at St. James’ Park last season, even if Bruce felt excellence was on the cards.
“Bentaleb looks in far better condition now than he did do when he arrived which is good, I thought he has been excellent in the games he has played,” the Toon boss said following the restart.
Bruce always expected fireworks from Bentaleb and was not concerned by any issues with his temperament when he welcomed the Algerian to Tyneside, feeling his winning mentality would be enough to keep his emotions in the right place.
Yet Schalke failed to see that upon his return, with Bentaleb left spinning in the Revierderby as he lost eight of nine duels, misplaced 41% of his passes, offered no shots or successful dribbles, made one tackle and was dribbled past five times against Borussia Dortmund, per SofaScore, before being replaced in the 56th-minute.
Clearly, the midfielder, described as a “high-level player” by Lothar Matthaus earlier this year, needs a change of scenery as life at Schalke is not for him, but he is not right for Newcastle, either.