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According to a report from The Guardian, Newcastle United have identified Hull City midfielder Sam Clucas as a key summer transfer target. The report claimed that the Magpies boss Rafael Benitez has shown interest in the 26-year old and the club had scouted him on occasions.
Now, bookmakers SkyBet have installed Newcastle as the favourites to clinch the signing of Clucas, with odds at 11/4. The likes of Burnley, Leicester City and Swansea City are also taking an interest in the midfielder (Mirror). However, it is Newcastle who have been installed in the pole position to sign Clucas.
Newcastle United are set to make their return to the Premier League, after having sealed their promotion back to the top tier, by winning the EFL Championship title. They easily had the best squad in the second division last season, but manager Benitez recognizes the need of players with more quality and experience in the top-flight, if they are to put up a strong challenge on their return.
It has been a frustrating window for the Tynesiders so far, having just managed to sign Christian Atsu from Chelsea on a permanent deal. But, they have missed out on several key targets over the past few weeks and with the pre-season nearing, they will want to wrap up some deals as early as possible.
The midfield area is one where Benitez is looking for reinforcements. In his favoured 4-2-3-1 set up, Jonjo Shelvey will occupy one of the two pivots, while the other one will be a toss-up between Isaac Hayden, Mohamed Diame, and Jack Colback.
While Hayden fared well in the 2016-17 season, his lack of Premier League experience is something that can be a problem for the club. Diame hardly impressed and Colback too struggled to make his presence felt.
This is where signing Clucas could turn out to be a masterstroke from the Magpies. The 26-year old enjoyed a good campaign on a personal level, despite Hull City getting relegated. Clucas was one of the Tigers’ more consistent players over the course of the season and took the field on 41 occasions, scoring thrice and registering a single assist. His sublime dipping volleyed strike against Middlesbrough was named as Hull’s Goal of the Season.
Clucas’ attacking output might not have been outstanding, but it is his work-rate and the ability to sit in the middle of the park and break up play that makes him valuable. A diminutive midfielder with a tenacious edge to his game, the Englishman can also fill in at left-back or in an advanced position down the left-flank as well, providing several options to the manager. An effective passer with a great range of distribution and good positional awareness, Clucas is also technically gifted.
The fact that he was playing League Two football with Chesterfield FC in 2015/16 and now is being chased by a host of Premier League clubs indicates that he is on the rise and has shown tremendous promise.
In many ways, Clucas is similar to Newcastle’s Colback, with both of them playing similar roles in the team and being able to play in similar positions. But the Hull City man will be a major upgrade on the former Sunderland midfielder. With Hull valuing him at £12million (Hull Daily Mail), Newcastle should be looking to bring him to the St. James’ Park before their competitors swoop in.