Steve Bruce can deliver an upgrade on Fabian Schar by signing Omar Colley amid claims Sampdoria are open to selling the Newcastle United target.
According to TuttoMercatoWEB, Toon chiefs have begun discussions with Colley’s representatives as they look to beat off rival interest from Super Lig giants Fenerbahce.
Colley only put pen to paper on a new four-year contract extension earlier this month, but has been granted permission to leave the Luigi Ferraris Stadium during the final week of the January transfer window.
Fenerbahce made unsuccessful efforts to sign the 29-year-old in December but have returned with a revised approach, after missing out on former Arsenal defender Sokratis following his move to Olympiacos having been released by Mikel Arteta’s side.
Colley was also linked with a move to Sheffield United recently, as Chris Wilder eyed a deal for the Gambia international to help fix the Blades’ leaky backline that has allowed 32 goals in 19 Premier League games this season. The report also claimed Colley would be excited by the prospect of a move to England, having previously enjoyed stints playing in Finland, Sweden, Belgium and most recently Italy.
Colley has made 14 appearances across all competitions for Sampdoria this season, starting their last nine Serie A fixtures after replacing Bartosz Bereszynski 20 minutes into December’s 2-1 defeat to AC Milan through injury.
Bruce has a solid group of central defensive options at Newcastle already, yet would sign an instant upgrade on Schar if Colley were to move to Tyneside before the February 1st 23:00 deadline.
Form would suggest United should be in the market for upgrades at the back, too, as only West Bromwich Albion (48), Crystal Palace (36) and Leeds United (35) have conceded more often than the Magpies (34) in the Premier League this season.
The Toon also lost a sixth game on the bounce when beaten at home to Leeds on Tuesday night to extend a now 11-game winless run across all competitions, that has seen Bruce’s side keep only one clean sheet.
Schar, who Rafa Benitez once claimed had evident “quality”, may have been lauded by supporters for his performance in Tuesday’s loss to Leeds, yet has also performed at a lesser level than the likes of Ciaran Clark, Federico Fernandez and even holding midfielder Isaac Hayden when fielded in defence in the Premier League this term.
The 29-year-old’s average WhoScored match rating sits at just 6.51 to his defensive colleagues’ respective 6.57, 6.78 and 6.74, thanks to Schar providing the lowest average number of successful tackles (0.9) per top-flight game among the quartet.
Schar’s defensive efforts further trail those of 6 ft 3 colossus Colley in the Serie A in almost every aspect, with the £4m-rated Sampdoria titan – who boasts an average WhoScored rating of 6.8 – recording a higher average of successful tackles (1.1) and giving away fewer fouls (1.1 to 1.4) per game.
He also breaks up opposition play with more interceptions (2.4) than any Newcastle player, catches opponents offside 0.9 times a game (Schar forces 0.3) and clears danger 4.1 times a game – only Fernandez (5.6), Clark (4.5) and Jamaal Lascelles (4.3) have forced an end to opponent’s attacks with a greater frequency in front of Karl Darlow this term.
Yet Colley is not afraid to play the ball out from the back with 39.2 accurate passes a game – only Jonjo Shelvey (48.7) completes more – showing how he can help United enjoy more possession, with the Magpies ranking second-last to West Brom for time spent on the ball in the English top-flight per game.
If Newcastle are to get out from their slump by playing defensive football, Bruce will need defenders who can both stop opponents and start attacks. And that is exactly what Colley would offer.
AND in other news, Newcastle may have found Steve Bruce’s ideal midfielder in a £1.9k-p/w target.