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The reasoning behind Newcastle's decision to spend big on Gordon

Posted on January 31, 2023

On the face of it, spending £40m on a winger with 10 Premier League goal contributions in their career is extremely poor value. Anthony Gordon hasn't been a goal machine since breaking onto the scene, yet that didn't deter Chelsea and Tottenham from registering their interest in the 21-year-old over the summer, nor Newcastle from splashing the cash to land the forward this month.

Gordon put Everton in a tricky position by not turning up to training this week, while videos of him laughing as supporters vented their frustration in the wake of their 2-1 home defeat to Southampton earlier this month didn't go down well either. Ultimately, the £40m they will receive from Gordon's sale will allow the Toffees to strengthen in the dying embers of the January transfer window, giving incoming boss Sean Dyche the chance to make some late signings ahead of a crucial few months for the Merseyside outfit.

It's a great deal for Everton, and while a hefty fee, could also prove a good one for Newcastle. The Magpies have been superb under Eddie Howe this season, and while not in action this weekend following their third round FA Cup defeat at the hands of Sheffield Wednesday, they are currently third in the table and have a very good chance of making the Carabao Cup final next week.

Yet if Newcastle are to remain competitive and, in all likelihood, secure a spot in Europe, they need to boost numbers in all areas of the pitch. Eddie Howe has his go-to wingers at present, with Joelinton and Miguel Almiron his first choice on the left and right, respectively, yet beyond the pair; Howe doesn't have a raft of hard working widemen that he craves at his disposal.

Both Joelinton (2.7) and Almiron (1.9) rank among the top five players for tackles per 90 of all Newcastle players this season, though it is worth noting that half of the former's 2022/23 starts did come in central midfield, so was expected to get stuck in to help protect the defence. Nevertheless, in terms of hard working wingers, Gordon fits the bill. He is making more tackles per 90 (2.8) than any other winger in the Premier League this season, reinforcing a statistically calculated WhoScored strength of 'defensive contribution'.

That being said, for a winger, the lack of attacking output is a concern. No player has scored more league goals for Everton this season than Gordon (3), but in turn; he has mustered a conversion rate of just 11.5%. To his credit, Gordon is at least testing the opposition goalkeeper when he does go for goal. Of those to have mustered 15 or more shots, Gordon's shot accuracy of 61.5% is the best in England's top tier, so a little composure in the 18-yard box, and that goal return will rise.

Howe also has previous on working miracles with wingers and getting them among goals, as noted by Almiron's rise up the goalscoring leaderboard this season. The Paraguayan has scored nine league goals in 2022/23, that level with Manchester United's Marcus Rashford, with 50% of Almiron's Premier League goal return in his career coming this campaign. If Howe can get the 28-year-old firing, then he can certainly do the same for Gordon.

Of course, once the move is completed, then the huge fee will be a stick with which to beat Gordon, yet considering he is a young, English winger, Everton were always well within their right to set a high asking price. Newcastle just happen to be paying said fee for a player that will, ultimately, fit Howe's system well, and with scope for improvement in a settled environment.

There remain areas of improvement required, as is the case with any young player in the game, with Gordon's ill-discipline needing refinement. He has committed more fouls (20) than he has made key passes (8) in England's top tier this season, and has received as many cards as he registered goals and assists combined in his Premier League career.

Conversely, Newcastle have established themselves as masters of the dark arts in the Premier League, which suits Gordon's style of play, and he'll go some way to helping the Magpies frustrate opponents, as they have done so successfully on a number of occasions in 2022/23. He riles opposition players and fans, and if Gordon can truly buy into Howe's methods, then he'll fit in well at St. James' Park and quickly establish himself as a fan favourite among the Toon faithful.