It has been said numerous times that Newcastle United’s defence is their biggest weakness, especially at centre-back. Since Eddie Howe took over back in November, this is still definitely the case, keeping only one clean sheet thus far.
For the majority of his games as Magpies boss, Howe has opted to play Jamaal Lascelles and Fabian Schar. Ciaran Clark has made a couple of appearances. But, on both occasions displayed why he should be nowhere near the starting XI. Federico Fernandez put in a solid display against Norwich but suffered an injury during the Christmas period.
At least one centre-back has been the main target for Newcastle this January, but have found it hard to do business. Many names have been linked with the club. Hopefully, we’ll see some new defenders on Tyneside sooner rather than later.
The priority should be getting at least one new centre-back in time for Leeds clash
Next Saturday the Toon Army take on Leeds at Elland Road. With a disappointing defensive display against relegation rivals Watford last weekend, a new centre-back is needed. This position needs to be prioritised – it’s Newcastle’s Achilles’ heel.
However, it does appear that Botman will not make the move to Tyneside. Lille want to hold onto the 21-year-old until at least the summer.
As for Carlos, it appears that a move to Newcastle is possibly on the cards. Progress has been made, so here’s to hoping that a deal can be made before Saturday’s fixture.
The best-case scenario for the Magpies is that they land a new defender ahead of the trip to Elland Road. It is evident that the pairing of Lascelles and Schar would lead to Newcastle dropping points, based on previous performances.
Should no new defender arrive in time, there’s another option to consider
Let’s say hypothetically that Newcastle is not able to sign a centre-back for the Leeds game. There’s one other option that they should consider.
Argentinian defender Federico Fernandez recently posted to his Instagram a photo of him doing work in the gym. The caption he added says, ‘Feeling better 💪’.
The 32-year-old suffered an injury over the Christmas period. However, if he is able to play on Saturday, Eddie Howe should bring him back. Fernandez is the most experienced of all the centre-backs at the Magpies, and in the eyes of some Newcastle fans and myself, the best of them.
When Ciaran Clark was sent off less than 10 minutes into the Norwich game last November, Fernandez was brought on. Alongside Schar, the two looked like a comfortable pair together. It was always going to be a challenge with playing most of the game with 10 men, so imagine the two alongside each other in a full starting XI.
At least one new centre-back is needed for the Leeds game. Diego Carlos talks have advanced, so it is essential he is signed in time so the defence can have a much-needed lift.
But, should a new centre-back not arrive in Tyneside in time for the Leeds game, Fernandez needs to be brought in. If the 32-year-old is fit to play, he has to replace Lascelles. The Argentine offers experiences and with some fans more assurance at the back.