After weeks of speculation, Friday saw the official announcement that Kieran Trippier (£5.0m) had become the first signing of the new era at Newcastle United.
It felt like a coup for the 19th-placed side to successfully attract England’s main right-back away from Spanish champions Atletico Madrid, especially for such a reasonable initial £12m fee.
The next day, in typical Newcastle style, things swiftly turned farcical as Trippier’s debut ended in a shock FA Cup elimination to League One’s Cambridge United.
Trippier has been handed a £5.0m price tag by Fantasy Premier League (FPL) and, at first glance, that seems steep amongst a defence with just one clean sheet so far. However, with further names expected through the doors of St James’ Park, could a more stable defence combine with a promising fixture run make the 31-year-old a good option?
We’ll explore this below.
Born in Bury and part of Manchester City’s academy from the age of nine, Trippier joined Eddie Howe’s Burnley on loan in July 2011 in a move that soon became permanent. His fourth year at Turf Moor was in the Premier League and it led to a £3.5m transfer to Tottenham Hotspur. Initially back-up to Kyle Walker (£5.4m), it was during his final two seasons in north London where Trippier became a regular.
He racked up impressive attacking contributions from right-back, regularly assisting for the likes of Harry Kane (£12.2m). Summer 2019 brought a move to Atletico Madrid, where manager Diego Simeone has an eye for good defenders and clearly rated Trippier. Two-and-a-half years brought 68 league appearances and Simeone’s farewell quotes suggest Trippier will be missed at the Wanda Metropolitano.
“I’m absolutely grateful for the time Kieran has been here with us. The club gave him 48 hours to resolve the situation. He’s behaved very well and been very important for us. We want him to stay, but you can’t force anyone to stay. An extraordinary player” – Diego Simeone
Across his stint in La Liga, Trippier ranks joint-fourth for assists (10) and fourth for chances created (81) among defenders.
Part of his high number of assists is due to his set piece duties, which famously saw him score a free kick in England’s semi-final of the 2018 World Cup. He’ll likely take over most of these responsibilities at Newcastle, although Jonjo Shelvey (£5.3m) has done an okay job.
For set piece stats, Newcastle usually rank around the middle of the pack for the first half of this season. Six goals have been scored from them, compared to Liverpool being top with ten and Manchester United being bottom with none. Their 63 attempts ranks joint 12th.
His new club have kept just one clean sheet so far this campaign – a number only worsened by Watford. And it’s the Hornets who travel to Tyneside at the weekend, starting a promising run of fixtures that presents their best chance of escaping relegation. Leeds United (a), Everton (h), Aston Villa (h) and Brentford (a) are amongst their next five, with games in hand due to Everton (a) and Southampton (a) being postponed.
Under new ownership, Newcastle are the focal point of this January transfer window, with almost every rumour trying to link another name to join Howe’s side. They know a lot of incomings need to arrive and quickly. A range of centre backs such as Sven Botman, Diego Carlos, Benoit Badiashile and Issa Diop (£4.3m) have been rumoured. If any are successful, it could be argued that Newcastle will improve their awful defensive statistics.
They’ve conceded the most shots, most goals and fourth-most attempts on target. Eddie Howe believes Trippier can help fix these problems and the millions of FPL managers will be looking with curiosity, ready to swoop if needs be.
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