Newcastle United announced the signing of Valentino Lazaro on loan from Inter Milan for the rest of the season yesterday. There’s been quite a few questions surrounding where he plays and what he can bring to the team – so I spoke to a German football journalist and Hertha Berlin fans to get their take on the Austrian.
Where does Lazaro play?
One of the things many of the NUFC fans have been debating is whereabouts on the pitch he plays. Statistics available online suggest he can play anywhere down the right wing, but which is his more natural position?
German football reporter Ryland James told me “He’s probably more of a right midfielder, but it depends on where he is needed and he’s a pretty lethal option to have down the right flank.”
Meanwhile, London based Hertha Berlin fan group owner Jack Woods says Lazaro is a player who can pretty much fill in wherever you need him most.
“His natural position has to be a winger,” says Jack. “But he’s so versatile he can pretty much play anywhere across the middle or right back, popping up with the occasional goal as well.”
What kind of player have NUFC found in Lazaro?
As well as whereabouts he plays on the pitch, a lot of us are a little unsure as to exactly what type of player Lazaro is. Is he more of the mercurial winger type like Allan Saint-Maximin, or is he closer to the hard working man of the people that Miguel Almiron is?
“He’s got good technique and loves running at defenders,” declared journalist Ryland James. “But he is also strong in the tackle. He’s known to be determined, but I don’t think we ever really saw the best of him in Hertha where he was used predominantly on the right side of midfield or right-back.”
The Hertha fan known as ‘Woodsy’ was much more gushing in his assessment of Lazaro.
“He is a pleasure to watch when he’s on his game with flair thrown in for good measure and he can deliver a set piece! If he shows his full potential I think you’ve hit the jackpot,” continued Woodsy.
“An all round midfielder who can deliver a set piece, pop up with a goal and play at the back when required, what more do you need? He’s not work shy but slipped up a few times for Hertha more due to a lack of concentration [than anything else]. He was a fans favourite and always gave time after games or training.”
Will Lazaro be able to fit into the defensive tactics employed at NUFC?
Newcastle manager Steve Bruce has come under fire for his defensive tactics a lot this season – particularly from his own fans. He normally sets up with a five man defence, with either three in midfield and Almiron behind the striker, or in a flat 5-4-1 with Almiron on the right wing.
This style of play can be hard to fit into for a lot of players who are new to it, but Woodsy tells me this is nothing new at all to Lazaro – having played in a similar style in the German capital.
“Hertha played a similar defensive style,” Jack proclaimed. “And he’s perfect for the dead ball situations (he had 4 assists in 6 games at one point for us) that defensive teams rely on. He’s also a good outlet for a counter, quick, skilful and pacey.”
Ryland concurred: “He’s got the potential to be a force [in that system], but it depends where he will fit into Steve Bruce’s plans and how he settles in but he is the sort of player who could easily slot into a defensive pattern and offer a bit of spark on the counter. He has pace to burn and loves linking up with the front men, even from right back.”
Any final thoughts?
Both Jack and Ryland were very helpful to me in my search for more information on the NUFC new boy, here are their final thoughts on the impact Lazaro can have on Tyneside.
“I think realistically he’s looking for game time to prove himself and get back into the inter team (or elsewhere),” said Woodsy. “He comes with a big price tag [at Inter] so guess he’s trying to show he’s worth it but that can only be positive for NUFC if he’s got something to prove.”
Ryland kept his summary a little more brief, telling me “I’d say he could be a good fit long-term, given the right chances and allowed a run of games.”
So, the pundits have had their say, what do you think? Will Valentino Lazaro be a good signing for Newcastle? Leave us a comment and let us know your thoughts. For more like this, visit our football page here and follow us on Twitter for coverage of the Premier League and the rest of the transfer window.
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Jack Woods: @HerthaBerlinUK
Ryland James: @RylandJames