Transfer Rumor of the Day: Erik Pieters

LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 29: Erik Pieters (R) of Netherlands battles for the ball with Danny Welbeck of England during the international friendly match between England and Netherlands at Wembley Stadium on February 29, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

Erik Pieters is a name that Newcastle supporters know quite well. He's been a rumored Jose Enrique replacement since before El Toro left for Liverpool, and on at least two different occasions it's been reported by fairly reputable sources that Pieters was as good as signed.

Pieters is a 23 (almost 24) year-old left back currently playing for PSV Eindhoven. He is 6'1" and left-footed. He was named to the Dutch provisional squad for Euro 2012, but had to bow out due to a broken metatarsal, an ailment that plagued him for much of the 2011-12 campaign. (According to some, the injury is what truly prevented him from transferring in January.) Pieters is lauded for his pace, but doesn't join the attack just a whole lot in PSV's system. He is an excellent on-ball defender, and manager Fred Rutten often trusted him to deal with wingers out on an island - the anti-Ryan Taylor, if you will.

One thing that must be discussed about Pieters is that unlike almost every other player said to be coveted by Newcastle, he does not possess much if any positional flexibility. Moving Davide Santon over to the right side is no problem at all (in fact, it's a move many have clamored for ever since his arrival), but with Aston Villa moving on from Alex McLeish, it looks like there may not be a place for Danny Simpson to leave for after all. I'm all about squad depth, but a move to Pieters creates a logjam as long as Simpson hangs around.

Then there's the issue of his style of play and how well it might mesh with the others. I like the idea of fielding a wing back with a more conservative approach {I can't tell you how many times I yelled at Simpson to get back on defense this year), but with the current set-up, I think a stay-at-home defender works better in the #2 spot. One of the attractive things about Santon playing on the left is that he, like Jose Enrique before him, can support Jonas Gutierrez in the middle and attacking thirds of the pitch. Additionally, the left back has always had the luxury of attacking at will because of Coloccini's ability to basically lock down that entire area.

If Pieters were to make the jump to the Premier League, I almost think that the entire formation would need to be flipped in order to compensate. Santon and Jonas would play on the right and make runs down the flank as Coloccini took care of any countering opportunities behind him. Meanwhile, Pieters could play conservatively and compensate for Hatem Ben Arfa's defensive inefficiencies. Jonas and Ben Arfa have each shown a tendency to cut to the inside in order to use their dominant feet, and supporters have long called for a switch in any occasion.

Perhaps this move would be the impetus for such change. The only persistent problem is that neither you nor I happen to be in charge of the team, and there's no guarantee that the purchase of Pieters would yield these changes. Alas. Perhaps we're getting ahead of ourselves anyway. As previously stated, Pieters is something of a long-term target for the Toon. If the two sides couldn't get together before, why do we think it's going to happen this time around? According to one report (Lee Ryder, The Chronicle), the transfer didn't go through last summer because PSV were holding out for £6 million, while NUFC didn't want to go over £4 million. Still other reports seemed to suggest that the agents' fees were what got in the way.

Pieters is under contract through June of 2014 and was reportedly asking for £30K a week, which is certainly doable. Why didn't Newcastle pull the trigger? There's got to be something going on behind the scenes that we don't know about, and that makes me wary. Still, the club continues to use its various mouthpieces in the media to suggest that all that's left is waiting for the window to officially open, and then there's Pieters' Twitter account, where he constantly tweets support of NUFC and his close friend Tim Krul (Here. are. just. some. examples). It feels like this is as good as done, but I also feel as if we've been saying that for a year now. Just sign already.

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