Amid the frustration of dropping points away to Bournemouth on Saturday, a further point of concern for Newcastle United was the loss of Joe Willock early on due to injury, with that blow having exposed the lack of midfield depth at Eddie Howe‘s disposal.
With Bruno Guimaraes currently suspended – and Jonjo Shelvey having been allowed to leave for Nottingham Forest late last month – it has laid bare that the decision not to recruit a new midfield addition in January may well have been a mistake, with resources now set to be stretched in that area.
The Magpies will have to wait until the summer if they are to finally strengthen in that department, with recent reports claiming that Royal Antwerp teenager Arthur Vermeeren could be a possible target ahead of next season.
What’s the latest on Vermeeren to Newcastle?
As the Daily Mail reported last week, both the Tynesiders and their upcoming Carabao Cup final opponents Manchester United are said to be keeping a close eye on the 18-year-old at present, following the midfielder’s standout displays in his native Belgium.
The report claims that any deal for the highly-rated starlet could require a fee of around £20m, with the 5 foot 9 gem having only recently committed his future to the Jupiler Pro League club until 2026.
Has Vermeeren been compared to Joshua Kimmich?
Despite his relative inexperience – having only made 17 senior appearances for his current club so far – Vermeeren has already made a big impression in his embryonic career, having been lauded as a “sensation” by talent scout Jacek Kulig and described as “fantastic” by team-mate and compatriot Toby Alderweireld.
Considered “one of the most talented teenagers in Belgium” – in the words of Kulig – the defensive-minded asset has impressed so far this season, having averaged 2.9 tackles and 1.1 interceptions per game from his 11 league outings.
Such quality has notably seen the teenager earn comparisons with Bayern Munich maestro Joshua Kimmich, with that an indication of just why Vermeeren has been attracting so much interest of late.
Like the Belgium U18 international, Kimmich also offers an effective screen in the front of the back four. He has averaged 2.4 tackles and 1.4 interceptions per 90 from his 19 Bundesliga appearances this term, having also been lauded as a “phenomenal” and “intelligent” player by coaching icon Jose Mourinho.
That latter trait is seemingly one which is shared by Vermeeren, with the “breakout” star – as described by GOAL’s Tom Maston – said to have a ‘very strong‘ footballing IQ, according to the aforementioned Kulig.
Howe would no doubt love to be able to acquire his answer to Kimmich, with the Germany international an asset who any manager would be desperate to have in their team. Mourinho has previously praised him as a figure who has “the qualities to be anything“, such is his innate versatility.
The hope will be that, should a deal be agreed upon, Vermeeren can go on emulate the brilliance of the 28-year-old at St James’ Park, having already shown signs that he possesses similar traits to that of the Bayern colossus.
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