This weekend, Eddie Howe’s bare-bones Newcastle United club lost 2-0 away at AFC Bournemouth, exposing the team’s threadbare roster. Regular first-team stars Alexander Isak, Bruno Guimaraes, and Sven Botman are among the players now sidelined due to injuries.
Howe was forced to introduce 17-year-old Lewis Miley at the Vitality Stadium right away due to the ever-expanding injury list. This marked the teenager’s first-ever Premier League debut and threw him right into the deep end.
Conversely, 34-year-old Matt Ritchie, a veteran of the Magpies, featured for 59 minutes away against the Cherries despite not being included in the team at all in the first few weeks of the campaign.
This lack of squad depth could see Howe go into January with a whole host of signings in mind to strengthen his group, including want-away Manchester City man Kalvin Phillips who looks to be on his way out of the Etihad on a loan deal this January according to reports with the midfielder keen for a Magpies switch.
Newcastle transfers latest
Italian outlet Calciomercato are reporting that Newcastle are very much in the running for a deal to sign the ex Leeds United man this January, with the Toon currently leading the race to sign the £42m Man City outcast.
Italian giants Juventus are also keen on Phillips, but the 30-time England senior international looks set to stay in the Premier League with Howe hoping and praying the deal is successful to bolster his depleted squad and add an injection of freshness to proceedings at St James’ Park.
Phillips will have to get back to full sharpness, however, playing only 89 minutes so far in the top-flight for Pep Guardiola’s league leaders this campaign.
But, if the 27-year-old can get back to his Leeds best in a short stint on Tyneside when fully up to speed, it could be a fantastic piece of business with Newcastle getting a top talent until the end of the season.
Who Kalvin Phillips could replace at Newcastle
Transitioning more towards playing as a holding midfielder during his late playing days at Elland Road – an inspired tactical tinker from then Whites manager Marcelo Bielsa – Phillips would provide Newcastle with an assured battler in the middle of the park unafraid to help out in attack on occasion.
Over the last year, despite his game-time shrinking at Man City, Phillips’ statistics still make for encouraging reading for Newcastle supporters if he was to join the club on loan.
It’s why his manager Guardiola continues to praise his number four despite limited game-time, calling his midfielder “exceptional” as quoted by Fabrizio Romano.
According to FBRef, Phillips has averaged 1.58 blocks per 90 minutes over the last year playing for both club and country whilst also contributing with 2.36 clearances each match.
Comparatively, Joelinton for Newcastle – who provides steel centrally but can attack at will much like Phillips – has made fewer blocks per 90 minutes (1.49 blocks) over the last year for the Magpies with only 1.20 clearances registered too.
Adding in Phillips to the central midfield trio at St James’ Park could allow for Bruno Guimaraes to roam more freely in the centre of the park and join the attack, with the Man City man and his Brazilian counterpart sitting back and displaying frenetic energy when required.
The Englishman would more than likely displace Sean Longstaff in Howe’s starting eleven if signed, Longstaff taking on 1.27 shots in total each game for Howe’s Magpies over the last year with Phillips trumping Newcastle’s number 36 with a far superior 2.17.
If the Tyneside-based outfit remain in the Champions League, the ex-Leeds homegrown talent could also add a certain level of pedigree and experience with the 27-year-old making six appearances for the current holders in that very competition in total.
Howe will beg the hierarchy at Newcastle to allow this transfer to go through, a short-term deal that adds a high-quality body to a squad suffering on its last legs currently.