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Newcastle: Howe could form “phenomenal” duo by signing Fofana

Journalist Robin Bairner has provided his thoughts on Newcastle United‘s potential interest in RC Lens midfielder, Seko Fofana.

What’s the word?

Reports over the summer had suggested that both the Magpies – as well as fellow Premier League side Arsenal – were eyeing a move for the Ivory Coast international, with the Ligue 1 outfit said to be demanding a fee of around £34m for his services.

As it proved, no such deal emerged as the 27-year-old signed a new contract extension with his current side, while those at St James’ Park ultimately ended the window without a new midfield addition, despite reported interest in the likes of Ibrahim Sangare and Edson Alvarez.

Whether the northeast side make an approach for the eight-cap gem in the near future remains to be seen, although the aforementioned Bairner – speaking to GIVEMESPORT –  has talked up the benefits of a move, stating:

“I think he’d fit really nicely with Bruno Guimaraes. Fofana’s been a sort of revelation in Ligue 1 since he moved from Udinese a couple of years ago, he’s been undoubtedly one of the best central midfielders.

“Bruno was a strong performer in Ligue 1, and Seko Fofana is kind of similar. Very strong attacking player, he does most of his best work going forwards, is known for his powerful runs, his excellent shooting, and he’s got a very good scoring record.

“His influence at Lens has been tremendous, it’s very difficult to overstate how good he’s been there.”

Imagine him and Bruno

New additions in the centre of the park appear something of a necessity for Newcastle boss Eddie Howe, with the Tynesiders currently still heavily reliant on the quality of January arrival, Bruno Guimaraes, with the Brazilian having laid on five goal contributions in just 11 league games so far this term.

As Bairner alluded to, adding Fofana into the mix could well be an ideal way to ease the burden on the club’s emerging cult hero, with the former Udinese man having showcased his talent in France of late, having been dubbed “arguably the best midfielder in Ligue 1 over the past 2 years” by journalist Zach Lowy.

The “phenomenal player” – as also described by Lowy – has two goals and two assists in the league so far this term, having previously recorded ten goals and two assists in all competitions during the 2021/22 campaign as a marker of his attacking talent.

That quality is also evident by the £26k-per-week man’s quality in possession as he ranks in the top 9% for pass completion among those in his position across Europe, while he has also showcased a willingness to drive his side forward from deep as he ranks in the top 13% for dribbles completed.

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Newcastle United striker Callum Wilson celebrates with Joelinton

How many 2021/22 Premier League goals did Newcastle score?

His potential midfield partner, Guimaraes, also ranks highly with regards to that latter metric (top 14%), while the former Lyon ace can potentially make up for Fofana’s shortcoming defensively, as he ranks in the top 2% for tackles made, as per FBref.

The Paris-born starlet – who was once on the books of Manchester City and enjoyed a brief loan stint at Fulham in the second tier in 2014 – has enjoyed a stunning rise in recent years, with Howe and co set to provide him with the platform to shine even brighter, as has been the case with Guimaraes.