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Since the return of Newcastle United to the Premier League was confirmed, the transfer tabloids have gone into a frenzy, linking the Magpies with almost every other Premier League player.
Rafael Benitez’s side made it to the top division after winning the EFL Championship earlier this month. Despite finishing the season as champions, Newcastle are expected to invest heavily in the summer for their return to the top echelon as the manager believes that he needs more quality in the ranks to compete strongly in the Premier League.
One of the key areas that needs to be reinforced in the transfer window is the position of the striker. Last summer’s signing Dwight Gayle was brilliant over the course of the season for Newcastle and finished with 23 goals in the Championship – joint second highest with Glenn Murray (Brighton & Hove Albion) and Tammy Abraham (Bristol City).
But Gayle’s struggles in the Premier League during his time with Crystal Palace are well documented. Aleksandar Mitrovic has hardly shown any consistency in the past two years and Daryl Murphy is on the wrong side of 30s to be considered for leading the line week in week out in the Premier League.
So bringing in a striker who is proven in the big league will be a top priority for Benitez and Newcastle United once the window opens.
One striker that has been constantly linked with a move to the St. James’ Park is AFC Bournemouth’s Joshua King (Northern Echo). The 25-year old has been in exquisite form this season for the Cherries, especially since the turn of the year and has attracted interests from the likes of Tottenham Hotspur along with Newcastle.
Another name that has been doing the rounds around the St. James’ Park of late is that of Ashley Barnes of Burnley FC (Chronicle). The 27-year old Englishman hasn’t been the most prolific goalscorer for the Clarets this season but has contributed immensely since their return to the top flight.
So who should Benitez consider? Who would be the better fit for Newcastle? Let’s take a look.
King, this season, has scored 16 goals in the Premier League from 36 games this season, whereas Barnes has managed a meagre 6 strikes from 28 matches. Both the forwards have managed 2 assists each, but the Bournemouth man has created more chances (31) than Barnes (21). However, King once again trumps the Burnley striker when it comes to shot accuracy (60% compared to 50% for Barnes) and passing accuracy as well (80% compared to just 55% for Barnes).
The Norwegian international, King, is a more mobile forward who has the pace and the power to cause troubles to opposition along with an extremely keen eye for goal. Barnes, on the other hand, is more of a target man, who uses his physicality to hold up the ball and bring his teammates into play and is less of an all-round player.
The fact that Barnes has attempted just 5 take-ons over the course of the season and has been involved in a total of 249 aerial duels (32% success-rate) gives an insight into how he plays – a stationary presence for his teammates to ping balls off of him. King, on the other hand, has attempted a whopping 119 take-ons and has come out successful on 78 occasions. He has attempted far fewer headed duels (98) but has a similar success rate of 33%.
When one takes a look at the numbers, it is quite clear that King is a much more well-rounded player than Barnes. The Norwegian possesses the pace and also has the physicality to bully defenders, whereas the Englishman is more of a target man and doesn’t mark up well in other aspects. Both the strikers are as different as chalk and cheese and will bring in different advantages of their own.
But, Newcastle may well be better served going for an all-round striker who can cause problems with his mobility. And the fact that King is two years younger to Barnes should tilt the scales in his favour too.
While it will be great if Newcastle manage to get their hands on both the players, but if they were to choose one among King or Barnes, it has to be Joshua King hands down.
** All Stats were taken from Squawka.com