Newcastle United Opinion: Magpies sign Leonardo Koutris
Koutris has enjoyed a fruitful season with the Greek giants this season and earned his first senior international cap in the UEFA Nations League last year. The youngster has accumulated 3 assists from 16 league appearances for Olympiakos this term, whilst also contributing one in 3 Europa League outings.
A youth product of Ergotelis, Koutris rose to prominence with his boyhood club and played for PAS Giannina before making his move to Olympiakos in 2017. He has been somewhat of a revelation in Greece since then, registering a goal and 8 assists from 54 appearances in all competitions.
Newcastle’s interest in Koutris comes as little surprise, with Rafael Benitez short of options at left-back. Paul Dummett has been established himself as a stalwart in recent years but January loan signing from Monaco, Antonio Barreca hasn’t made any significant impact.
Benitez has been reluctant to use the Italian and it is highly unlikely that he is going to stay at Tyneside beyond the end of the season unless something remarkable happens in the final stages of the campaign.
Everton, though, have better options at left-back, with summer recruit Lucas Digne flourishing under Marco Silva’s free-flowing attacking philosophy.
The Toffees also have the hugely experienced Leighton Baines as an understudy to the Frenchman but investing in Koutris won’t be a bad idea, given that Baines is at the twilight of his career.
To put things into perspective, Koutris would be a welcome signing for both Newcastle and Everton but the Magpies should look to lure the Greek international to Tyneside this summer in a bid to add much-needed cover at left-back.
Rafael Benitez is unlikely to have too much cash to throw around in the summer but Koutris can prove to be a bargain signing for the club.
Stability and organisation at the back have been the hallmarks of Newcastle’s campaign in the Premier League this season, with Benitez often preferring a back-five system.
DeAndre Yedlin has been a regular face at right-wing back while Matt Ritchie, though essentially a winger by trade, has been relied upon by the manager to play in a more defensive role down the left.
The likes of Ayoze Perez, Isaac Hayden and Miguel Almiron have come to the fore in recent weeks but Newcastle, predominantly,
Playing in an unfamiliar left-back role, Matt Ritchie has created plenty of opportunities for Salomon Rondon with his crossing.
Paul Dummett, though a more established defender, is not particularly good with his deliveries into the box and doesn’t provide much in terms of attack, which might have been a reason why the Magpies brought in Barreca on loan.
Now that Barreca has failed to nail down a spot in the first-team, signing an offensive-minded left-back should be a priority for Newcastle and Koutris certainly fits the bill.
The Greek international has good pace and trickery on the ball, likes to burst forward and creates chances with his accurate crossing. Defensively, he is a good tackler and has a sound understanding of the game.
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Newcastle have got Almiron playing down the left and Benitez should look to use Ritchie as an out-and-out winger to facilitate better link up play, with Koutris and Dummett challenging for a spot at left-back.
Hence, the acquisition of Koutris would be a significant boost for the Magpies both in terms of squad depth and team dynamics.