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According to Rafael Benitez, Islam Slimani has just a few games to secure a permanent move from Leicester to Newcastle United.
Slimani moved to Newcastle from Leicester on loan until the end of the season in January but the striker has endured a frustrating spell with the Magpies so far due to injury.
However, the Algerian’s future will be decided at the end of the campaign when Leicester and Newcastle hold a review over how the striker has done, reports the Leicester Mercury.
Slimani made his first appearance for the Magpies by coming off the bench for the final 15 minutes of the 1-0 victory over Huddersfield Town. He showed some strong hold-up play and tidy touches but Benitez would expect more from him in the remaining games. Slimani also made a substitute appearance in their stunning 2-1 win vs Arsenal.
That is the reason why Newcastle took him on loan in January. The Magpies have created chances in every game but have lacked a clinical striker to finish them off. While Joselu’s profligacy has cost them a number of times this season, Benitez allowed crowd favourite Aleksandar Mitrovic to join Fulham on a temporary deal, meaning the Magpies needed cover for Dwight Gayle.
Benitez acted quickly and secured the services of Slimani, who had struggled to make an impact at Leicester City after joining for a record £28million from Sporting Lisbon in 2016. The Algeria international scored just 8 times in 35 games and was deemed surplus to requirements at the King Power Stadium.
Knowing his ability to score out of nothing and power to shrug off the defenders, Benitez jumped at the opportunity to sign Slimani when the striker became available in the winter transfer window. However, things haven’t gone the way Slimani and Benitez would have expected to. Yet, the Newcastle boss remains confident about the 29-year-old’s ability to deliver until at least the end of the season.
For a team to succeed, a reliable, clinical striker is necessary and that has affected Newcastle this season. For teams who tend to sit deep and hit on the counter, Benitez’s men have lacked ideas and whenever chances have fallen on their path, the strikers have failed to grab it.
That’s where Slimani can help them. The Algerian is quick, strong and has peaked slightly late in his career. He was a fantastic forward in his Sporting Lisbon days and scored goals for fun. Undoubtedly, it is those three years with Sporting that transformed a rough diamond into a formidable striker.
For now, Slimani has just 5 games left to prove his worth at Newcastle. The striker must seize his chances if he has to move to Tyneside permanently.