Three questions Rafa Benitez must answer before Newcastle move for Patrick Erras

According to German media outlet Bild, Newcastle United are exploring the option of signing FC Nurnberg midfielder Patrick Erras this summer.

The Magpies aren’t yet safe but will move a huge step closer if they can pick up three points against Leicester City on Friday night, allowing them to start planning for another season in the Premier League.

Before Rafa Benitez and Mike Ashley bring the 24-year-old to St James’ Park however, they have three key questions they need to answer.

Is he really better than what they have?

It’s certainly a legitimate question given the defensive midfielder has only made 13 league appearances – seven of those being starts – for a side lying in 17th position in the Bundesliga standings at the moment.

Five of those starts have come since the beginning of March to show just how out of favour the German was previously, and certainly raises more than a few question marks over his quality and ability to step up into the Premier League.

If the likes of Isaac Hayden, Jonjo Shelvey and Mo Diame do go this summer, Erras would hardly be an inspiring replacement.

Will he be a Schar or a Muto?

With a year left on his contract by the summer and not being a regular in the Nurnberg team, you would have to think that the 24-year-old midfielder will be available for a decent price should Newcastle move for him.

Last summer the Tyneside outfit completed two relatively cheap moves for Fabian Schar and Yoshinori Muto, from relegated Deportivo La Coruna and Mainz respectively.

While the former has shone at St James’ Park, the latter has found it difficult to make the transition to English football.

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Erras certainly has the height and power given his 6 ft 5 frame, but the initial feeling from us at least is that he would be more of a Muto than a Schar.

What would his arrival mean for Longstaff?

Should Erras sign and no midfielders depart, Benitez would have the German, Sean Longstaff, Ki Sung-Yueng, Shelvey, Hayden and Diame to pick from.

Longstaff v Burnley

The fact that they are targeting a central player at all suggests at least one of those is leaving – Hayden recently admitted again he still wants to go – but what would it mean for the promising Longstaff?

Firstly Erras would need to prove that he should be a starter – something the 21-year-old has already done – and that he is better than Ki.

Depending on what formation Benitez intends to play, partnering him with Longstaff could actually be a blessing in disguise for the former Blackpool loanee, who would likely be given a little more freedom to go forward.