This week, Dwight Gayle has come in for some criticism from Talksport, with the website labelling the Newcastle United frontman as ‘the most overrated player at the club’.
Considering the terms ‘over’ and ‘under-rated’ weigh heavily on the subjective, this seems like a bold tag for such a website to suddenly burden upon a player.
Gayle is considered a popular figure amongst the Geordie faithful – a debut return of 23 goals in 32 Championship outings as the Magpies stormed to the Championship title at the first time of asking was always going to go some way to winning them over.
Yes, his transition back into the top-flight hasn’t been smooth – sceptics who groaned at his paltry record for Crystal Palace have been proven right. After all, with just six weeks of the season left, he’s returned a measly five goals – just one more than the much-maligned Joselu having played eight more games.
But this supposed narrative that he’s buying time at the club on past heroics while others are unfairly castigated, is erroneous.
It’s Gayle’s tireless work ethic and off-the-ball sacrifices that not only endear him to the Toon Army, but has also seen him force his way back into Rafa Benitez’ plans.
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Having been seemingly cast adrift last summer, with Fulham locked in negotiations for the striker – they would have to wait to poach a Magpies’ misfit – the former Peterborough striker has knuckled down and fought his way back into the side.
Yes, he’s often looked profligate and wasteful in front of goal, his hold-up play is weak and his link-up play flatters to deceive, but all Newcastle fans ask for is that a player gives his all.
If you need evidence of Gayle’s subtle importance to the side, watch back Kenedy’s second against Southampton, with the former Palace man tearing from his own penalty box into the opposition’s, before receiving the ball, neglecting to shoot and instead unselfishly weighting the ball into the path of the Brazilian.
Would Aleksandr Mitrovic have that mixture of workrate and awareness stuffed in his arsenal?