Newcastle United’s ongoing nightmare was meant to have been ended by their Saudi-backed takeover, but they’ve quickly come to realise there’s no instant cure for years of neglect and mismanagement.
Former manager Steve Bruce was relieved of his duties after just one game in charge under the new regime, but new boss Eddie Howe is still searching for his first win in the St. James’ Park hot seat.
With six points separating 20th-placed Newcastle and 17th-placed Watford, the January transfer window is likely to play a pivotal part in their chances of retaining their Premier League status come May.
Several star names such as Ousmane Dembele, Lorenzo Insigne and Philippe Coutinho have been linked with a move to the Toon, although the prospect of a relegation battle may mean they have to focus their attention on more realistic targets.
And one of those who perhaps could be persuaded to join Howe’s struggling charges is TSG Hoffenheim midfielder Florian Grillitsch.
The 26-year-old’s current contract is set to expire in the summer of 2022, meaning he will be available for a cut-price deal over the coming months, sparking a tussle for his signature.
According to The Sun, Hoffenheim have placed a £3-4m price tag on Grillitsch, with both Newcastle and Jose Mourinho’s AS Roma listed as potential suitors.
The £35,000-per-week dynamo is comfortable in a variety of positions through the middle of the pitch, regularly playing as a No.8, No.6, or even at centre-back when called upon to do so.
It’s in the engine room where the Austria international really excels, though, allowing him to utilise his physical presence, ability to carry the ball and impressive passing range, and his eye-catching performances have seen him compared to a former Bundesliga great.
“Grillitsch’s hounding of opposition players coupled with his ability to roll his man, carry the ball and ping passes left, right and centre is reminiscent of prime Bastian Schweinsteiger,” read a profile piece by Bundesliga.com.
Hoffenheim sporting director Alexander Rosen also led his admiration for Grillitsch be known, praising his tactical intelligence as well as his natural attributes.
“Florian is an extremely gifted footballer. He has a real football brain and great technique, and can apply himself to a number of different roles,” said Rosen.
Whether Newcastle and Howe can convince Grillitsch to turn down the allure of Rome for the North-East of England remains to be seen, but they must do everything in their power to secure his services.