Javier Manquillo was far from the most popular of Rafa Benitez signings during the 2018/19 campaign but his reputation has been on the perpetual rise ever since Steve Bruce took the reigns at St James’ Park.
Due to the presence of DeAndre Yedlin, the Spaniard is far from first choice right on Tyneside but his performances have been markedly improved compared to the standard he set under Benitez.
From a statistical point of view there isn’t much to distinguish between the two campaigns. The 25-year-old now completes 0.3 more tackles, 0.2 dribbles and 0.1 blocks more per game than he did last season, while his offensive improvement has been a little more tangible – he completes 0.4 more dribbles and wins 0.4 more fouls per game, per Whoscored.
Those marginal gains appear to have made Manquillo a far better all-round player than he was prior to the beginning of the new campaign, and Bruce deserves great credit for his man-management of a player who could easily have been written off given the options at his disposal.
And it appears his improvement has garnered interest from Premier League rivals West Ham United. According to a recent report from The Athletic, the Hammers are weighing up a potential move for Manquillo this month in a bid to bolster their options at full-back in light of Ryan Fredericks’ recent injury setback.
The pertinent aspect of this potential deal is that Manquillo has now entered the final six months of his current contract – a fact that gives Bruce and the rest of Newcastle’s decision-makers a conundrum to unpick this month.
If the club have no intention of offering a new deal then the remaining weeks of the January window represent the last time Newcastle can attract any fee for the full-back.
But while that may be true it’s unlikely they’ll be able to command anything representing a significant sum for the £4.5m-rated man, per Transfermarkt.
And if that does indeed prove to be the case, then why would the Magpies shoot themselves in the foot and offload a player to a potential relegation rival on the cheap?
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After all, Yedlin has already collected two separate injuries this season and fellow right-back Emil Krafth has left plenty to be desired on his debut season for the club.
It’s a foolish prospect given Manquillo’s improvement this season and one they should avoid at all costs.