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Newcastle: Ashworth eyeing move for Hakim Ziyech

Newcastle United could well be looking to strengthen with the signing of Chelsea playmaker, Hakim Ziyech before the end of the window.

What’s the word?

According to The Telegraph’s Luke Edwards, Magpies sporting director Dan Ashworth is believed to be ‘looking at’ a potential move for the Moroccan international, with the Blues said to be willing to let the 29-year-old depart Stamford Bridge this month.

The report suggests that one of Eddie Howe’s priorities at present is to recruit a new winger or midfielder, hence turning to the former Ajax star – who has two-and-a-half years left on his existing deal – as he can operate in either role.

The piece also goes on to add that the Tynesiders are seemingly only set to move for those players who are on their ‘list of targets in the summer’, with the northeast side having been linked with the 50-cap sensation during the previous window.

Almiron 2.0

Howe’s side are currently somewhat reliant on the devastating brilliance of the resurgent Miguel Almiron to make the difference in the final third, with the Paraguayan international the club’s leading scorer this season with nine Premier League goals thus far.

The 28-year-old dynamo has enjoyed an “amazing transformation” this season according to club legend Alan Shearer, having previously only scored nine top-flight goals across the last three seasons combined.

The diminutive ace has thrived in his regular on the right flank so far this term, providing a real direct and dynamic threat with his ability to cut in onto his stronger left foot and wreak havoc on the opposition.

Newcastle could well land another version of the former Atlanta United man in the form of the aforementioned Ziyech, with the £100k-per-week maestro also typically operating in a wide right berth and cutting in onto his favoured left foot.

The playmaking “genius” – as described by journalist Nizaar Kinsella – has enjoyed a rather disappointing stint in the capital to date with just 14 goals and 11 assists in 97 games across all fronts, although the hope would be that Howe can inspire an Almiron-esque resurgence should he make the switch to St James’ Park.

The Netherlands-born ace has clearly shown enough quality in the past to warrant such interest from Ashworth and co, having recorded a truly staggering haul of 130 goal involvements in just 165 games during his previous stint in Amsterdam.

That breathtaking, creative flair was also evident during the recent World Cup in Qatar, with Ziyech – who made the move to England on a £33.3m deal back in 2020 – having been lauded for his “incredible” form by Morocco boss Walid Regragui, after starting every game in his nation’s surge to the semi-final.

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What was also most eye-catching about his display in that tournament was the former FC Twente man’s willing work ethic as he recorded 1.4 interceptions and 1.4 tackles per game, while he also ranks in the top 13% in Europe among those in his position for the latter metric.

Such a trait can also be attributed to Almiron, as the 5 foot 9 speedster ranks in the top 12% in that regard, with Shearer having previously stated that the player’s “work rate” is “one thing that has never been in doubt since he joined Newcastle in 2019”.

To be able to bring in a player who can provide healthy competition for the in-form asset with the signing of Ziyech could well prove an astute move for Ashworth and for Howe, with strengthening in attack set to help bolster what is an already rampant outfit.