This article is part of Football FanCast’s In Numbers series, which takes a statistical look at performances, season-long form and reported transfer targets…
Record Newcastle signing Joelinton is settling in on Tyneside, making his second and third pre-season appearances this past week, so what exactly is he going to give the Magpies this season?
After both earning and giving away a penalty in his pre-season debut against Preston, the 22 year-old has been strutting his stuff in the last two games, scoring against both Hibernian and St Etienne last week.
And yet, his meagre Bundesliga tally of seven strikes last season could certainly be enough to convince some fans that he is not the out-and-out number nine they need, or not a natural goalscorer at least.
However, he could help his team score more goals without actually scoring them himself, just like another versatile Brazilian forward who came to England from Hoffenheim.
Last season, Liverpool’s Roberto Firmino averaged 0.35 goals per game, a slightly better average than Joelinton, who came in at 0.25.
Their other stats are remarkably similar though, as the newest member of the Toon Army matched the Champions League winner exactly for assists per game, while coming out on top in key passes, dribbles and tackles, per Whoscored.
Of course, Firmino’s impact on the pitch cannot be measured fairly by numbers alone, as Jurgen Klopp’s ‘false nine’ does so much to allow Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane to shine, and Joelinton could do the exact same for Newcastle’s new winger duo.
Last season, Miguel Almiron showed glimpses of brilliance, but didn’t muster a single goal in ten top-flight appearances, because he needs a versatile, constantly moving menace up front to open up spaces in behind, where the former MLS star can use his exhilarating pace.
At Atlanta United he had Josef Martinez bursting into every unoccupied space on the pitch, and he racked up 41 goal contributions in just two seasons.
Just like Firmino, Joelinton loves to drop deep, having played five different attacking positions so far in his career, including the role of ‘second striker’, which could be seen as a false nine, as well as featuring very briefly as an attacking midfielder.
Joelinton is doing so much more than just popping up with the odd goal; beating players one-on-one with the ball, creating chances, tracking back and harassing opposition defenders. In fact, if we assume his numbers could drop slightly with a move to a tougher league, they could be virtually identical to Firmino’s.
And given the impact the Liverpool cult hero has had on the wingers at Anfield, who shared the golden boot last term, could we see breakout seasons for Almiron and Saint-Maximin with the help of their new partner in crime?
Whether the pair can take their chances when they come remains to be seen, but Almiron’s MLS record in particular suggests that if Joelinton can even slightly replicate what his fellow Hoffenheim graduate does at Liverpool, then Newcastle’s new wing duo could serve up their greatest goalscoring seasons yet.