Can Islam Slimani revive his career and guide Newcastle United to safety?
Out-of-favour Leicester City striker Islam Slimani managed to complete a much-anticipated loan move to join Newcastle United until the end of the season. Although he was brought to the King Power Stadium for a club-record fee of £28m in 2016, the player has failed to make room for himself in the starting lineup ever since. In fact, he has been starved of regular game time for a while now and the move to Newcastle will definitely allow him a golden opportunity to revive his career.
He is experienced enough to have good judgement on the field and he is adept at handling one-on-one situations with defenders. Scoring goals will be of utmost priority for the striker and the fans will be hoping that he can deliver on that front.
The Magpies are not in a good place in the points table at present and it will be important for Slimani to make a strong impact. They are living dangerously close to the relegation zone and it is rather disappointing since they made a promising start to the season. Initially, they were actually primed for a top-six finish but as time wore on, so did their influence.
However, it is not too late and with the remaining half of the season ahead, Rafa Benitez will have plenty of time to turn things around and having a player like Slimani in the mix could definitely prove to be an advantage. One might term Slimani as a panic buy but there is no doubt that signing him was a necessity, even if it is on a temporary basis.
As it is, Newcastle will need to focus more on preserving their top-flight status and this will prove to be a crucial period. Also, given the level of competition in the lower-half of the table this season, the Magpies are in dire need of stepping up their game in general.
At present, Newcastle only have the likes of Dwight Gayle and Joselu as striking options. Both of them have been rather underwhelming but Benitez is likely to benefit from using Slimani and Gayle together up front. Gayle has not scored much this season but having Slimani alongside him could truly help him do a lot better.
He would provide a competitive edge and would also offer support if Benitez were to use a two-striker formation. While there is no doubt that signing Slimani is a good move, it remains to be seen if this deal helps the striker revive his career and guide the Magpies to safety.