Newcastle should make cheeky swoop for Southampton’s Elyounoussi to solve creativity issues

Rafa Benitez would have the creative player Newcastle desire, if he can complete a swoop on the south coast to snatch Mohamed Elyounoussi from Southampton.

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The Magpies have struggled for creativity so far this season, with Benitez heavily relying on the talents of Ayoze Perez and Matt Ritchie to create pockets for Salomon Rondon – the Spaniard had 24 key passes to the Scot’s 21 before Boxing Day action.

Fellow Toon forwards Kenedy and Christian Atsu both had fewer key passes than games played in the Premier League, leading to the transfer dilemma facing the St James’ Park outfit.

Speaking after the draw at home to Fulham, Benitez noted the importance new faces could make on their survival hopes, and Southampton’s Elyounoussi should be a serious contender for their shortlist.

The Norwegian winger, valued by Transfermarkt at £13.5million, only arrived at St Mary’s in the summer, but his future has become unclear following the appointment of Ralph Hasenhuttl.

Under Mark Hughes, Elyounoussi featured in ten league games, playing 13 key passes and beating players with the ball seven times, but has not been included in a matchday squad since the Welshman’s sacking.

Even towards the end of the former Manchester United striker’s time in charge, appearances were becoming harder to come by – notching 48 minutes as a substitute in the three games since his last start back in October.

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Kenedy at risk of being replaced

Before his Premier League switch, Elyounoussi recorded 11 goals and 17 assists in all competitions for FC Basel, and made the difference for the Swiss side when they travelled to Manchester to face City in the Champions League Last 16.

Basel lost the tie 6-1 on aggregate, but the 24-year-old’s goal and assist at the Etihad teed a shock away win for the Swiss Super League outfit.

If the natural attacking midfielder, who can slot in on the right or as a striker if needed, were to join Benitez’s Newcastle mission, the place of Chelsea loanee Kenedy would be the most at risk.

The Brazilian is not a Newcastle man and has not yet shown he would deserve a place over one of their own if the option existed, with the 22-year-old only completing 12 accurate long balls, to 33 inaccurate attempts heading into Boxing Day.

A further 33 unsuccessful touches and being dispossessed 36 times has seen the Santa Rita do Sapucai-native lose possession a staggering 69 times in his first 16 games of the season.

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