Luuk De Jong Can Lift Newcastle into European Contention

Abbey ChaseContributor IIIJanuary 28, 2014

ENSCHEDE, NETHERLANDS - FEBRUARY 26:  Luuk de Jong of Twente looks on during the Eredivisie match between FC Twente and FC Utrecht at De Grolsch Veste Stadium on February 26, 2012 in Enschede, Netherlands.  (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)
Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images

Sitting in the eight spot in the Premier League, Newcastle are still in contention to qualify for the Champions League but they will need a big boost to get there. Having failed to land any major signings over the summer, the Magpies’ luck may have changed with Luuk de Jong

The Dutch striker has had a polarized career, punctuated by a strong performance at Twente from 2009 to 2012 and a less impressive run with Borussia Monchengladbach, in which de Jong has gone scoreless in 13 appearances. However, his performance with Twente proved that the 23-year-old has something to offer.

As George Curtis argues (per The Column):

Despite his below average chance conversion rate in the Bundesliga, de Jong is a renowned finisher, a reputation he forged for himself during his time with Steve McClaren’s former employers, Twente, where he bagged an impressive 37 goals in 63 games, a ratio of more than one goal every two games. He was also the second-highest goalscorer in the 2011/12 Eredivisie, with 25, behind SC Heerenveen’s Bas Dost.

Limited by standout players Max Kruse and Raffael Araujo on the Borussia Monchengladbach squad, de Jong’s offensive strength would be better utilized on a Newcastle team, where the striker could have a more prominent role on the squad.

“I need to play,” de Jong told Lee Ryder at Chronicle Live ahead of his anticipated move to Newcastle (de Jong is still hoping to join the roster for the Dutch team at this year’s World Cup). “It’s no fun being substitute any more. The coach [Lucien Favre] does not give me the impression that he wants to build with me.”

Furthermore, de Jong would help fill the void left by Yohan Cabaye, the Magpies’ midfielder and a centerpiece of their 4-2-3-1 formation who is likely headed to Paris Saint-Germain.

Cabaye has been an enormously influential part of the Newcastle team and with the 28-year-old slated to leave Tyneside, de Jong could find himself in a prominent position shortly after his arrival in St. James’ Park.

Seven points off the No. 5 Spurs, Newcastle will have to leapfrog three teams to put themselves in qualifying position. The Magpies have a low goal differential (+4), but two teams in front of them haven't posted particularly dominant offensive numbers either—Tottenham sits at +3 and Manchester United at +9.

Because these teams have allowed so many goals, there's room for de Jong to rack up some points for Newcastle and help transform the Magpies into a more offensively solid squad. Consistency has plagued Newcastle for much of this season, who have won only five of their last 10 games, but de Jong can get hot (a proven by his performance at Twente) and a similar scoring streak for Newcastle could lift the Magpies into the coveted fifth position.

De Jong could also be an important part of the Newcastle squad in the future with Papiss Cisse’s place on the squad less than certain. Though de Jong has played significantly less than Cisse, the Dutchman has won more headed duels than Cisse, an important complement to his scoring capabilities.

A move to the Premier League for de Jong looks increasingly certain after the Dutch forward traveled to Tyneside on Tuesday for a medical in anticipation of a loan deal for the remainder of the season. Borussia Monchengladbach confirmed de Jong’s absence via Twitter on Tuesday.

“Luuk de Jong is not training with the Foals today. The striker is currently on his way to Newcastle for medical checks.” (translation via Metro).

Assuming both de Jong and Newcastle decide to move forward together, the striker could make an appearance for the Magpies as soon as Saturday in Newcastle’s match against Sunderland.