Newcastle United have been linked with a move for Inter Milan star Stefan de Vrij – and it could be a transformative signing if the club can pull it off.
The Times claimed yesterday that he is one of three Serie A stars on the club’s radar ahead of the January transfer window.
de Vrij has been with the Italian outfit since 2018 when he transferred from Lazio.
He has racked up 139 appearances so far, and last term helped the club to a league title under Antonio Conte.
Much has been made about the current state of Newcastle’s defence.
The club have not kept a single clean sheet in the league so far this season.
And only bottom club Norwich City have conceded more goals.
Undoubtedly, the new owners have to sign at least two central defenders in the next window – and starting with de Vrij would seriously set the tone.
There is currently no indication the player would be interested, but it seems the club are keen and that’s exciting.
de Vrij really is a top-quality player.
He’s been playing in a top-five European league since 2014, and has also accrued 54 caps for the Netherlands, where he plays alongside Liverpool superstar Virgil van Dijk.
He is a solid, modern-day centre-back. So far in Serie A this term he has averaged 2.5 aerial duels won per 90, made 2.4 clearances per 90 and 1.3 tackles per 90 (WhoScored).
He has also been excellent on the ball, completing 90.5% of his passes.
And one only needs to read an article from The Correspondent last year to deduce that de Vrij would be a simply fantastic addition to this Newcastle squad.
The long-read article delves into the 29-year-old’s mindset.
de Vrij used to have twice-weekly FaceTime sessions with Loran Vrielink, a Dutch football coach who founded Tactalyse, a company that gives professional footballers private tactics lessons.
The pair would watch fractions of games de Vrij had played in. They would seek to learn from any mistakes he had made, no matter how tiny.
He started strength training outside the club, and also hired a mental coach.
The article emphasises the fact that de Vrij is extremely professional and meticulous in his approach to football. It at one point describes him as ‘the hungry pupil’.
de Vrij would be perfect signing for Eddie Howe at Newcastle
Newcastle don’t just need players that are high quality.
They also badly need individuals with strong mentalities and big work ethics.
de Vrij appears to be someone hell-bent on trying to get better, even as he approaches the age of 30.
We have heard so much about how hardworking and holistic Eddie Howe is.
Potentially, de Vrij and Howe could be a match made in heaven.
A move seems unlikely, but if Newcastle can somehow do this deal, then it has the potential to be transformative.