Jacob Murphy is no longer a youthful player trying to make a breakthrough into the first team. He is one of the biggest assets Newcastle United have in their ranks.
Last season he was joint-second for the highest number of dribbles attempted for a wingback, making 2.8 per 90 minutes. He was also fourth-highest for successful dribbles at 1.7. He was the fifth-best wingback at getting shots off, too, making one per 90 minutes.
The 26-year-old is playing the best football in a black and white shirt under Steve Bruce. So much so that now there are reports linking him with moves away..
But the adjsutment to right-back was actually made under Gary Monk. The Huddersfield Examiner said recently that ‘some of [Jacob’s] performances in an unfamiliar right wing-back role were of the highest calibre. There were times when he looked a cut above the rest of his teammates.’ Despite his positioning there, he offered Wednesday nine goals in the 2019–20 season.
Back at St James’ Park last campaign, he scored three goals across the campaign but in 17 fewer games.
It’s been a huge ride for the supporter of the club who was brought in by Rafa Benitez as an afterthought following the failure to re-capturing Andros Townsend but then really struggled to fulfill his price tag of £12 million (Sky Sports).
The pushing back of him has indeed been a blessing – as in some cases tactical tinkering does – but it’s also Murphy who has gone on to develop as a player and break back into the first team after two loan spells away (one was West Bromwich Albion and the other Sheffield Wednesday).
Praising the Englishman via the Newcastle Chronicle, journalist John Gibson said: “He’d come up here from Norwich – he looked timid, overawed, he looked like he’d hit a stage which was far too big for him.
“Went out on loan, the traditional way – like Rolando Aarons – is that you come back, go back out and then are eventually sold but Murphy came back and while at times he couldn’t get into the side, he eventually flourished at wing-back.
Newcastle endured a relegation battle for the majority of last season and undoubtedly need to make sharp improvements to the squad next campaign, but on the flanks, they should have no problems with the assets they currently have at the club.
Equally, they must hold onto Murphy. There will be a temptation to sell the player for the right price, and even the fan, though a fan, might see a greater benefit plying his trade at Elland Road under Marcelo Bielsa, for instance.
At 26, Murphy is coming into his prime and next campaign, given Bruce seems to have finally figured out his best line-up and formation, the former Norwich player will be given plenty of room to get underway.
Murphy will be pivotal in getting those dangerous crosses and breaks in for Newcastle goals next season – and Newcastle now must show him a reason to stay and at least a slither of ambition.
Jacque Talbot is on Twitter.