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Newcastle United Left Backs: Young But Talented

The left back position is the youngest in the entire Newcastle United squad - but is arguably one of the most talented as well.

Stu Forster

When he was purchased in August of 2011, Davide Santon was clearly the future for Newcastle at LB. With 40 appearances for Inter Milan with many coming under current Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho, it was certainly an exciting future. Unavailable for the early part of 2011/12 due to a lingering knee injury, he would overtake Ryan Taylor by the end of the season and his position would be solidified in the very early stages of 2012/13 as Taylor would be sidelined by a knee injury suffered in the Europa League playoff tie v. Atromitos.

In his time as the starter at left back for Newcastle, the 22-year old Italian has largely been impressive. On average, he has been "good enough" defensively speaking - his bad games have been very bad, usually, but his good games are more frequent and his best performances are better than his bad are bad. In fact, according to's measurements, Santon was responsible for 5 "defensive errors", of which 3 lead to goals for the opposition. When the mistakes come, they are big more often than not. Perhaps the most consistently good part of his game has been his willingness and execution in jumping into the attack. Much like Mathieu Debuchy on the opposite side, Santon's role is to defend as well as possible while being a general nuisance to the opposing team. Although he has not perhaps been as effective/active as you might hope crossing the ball, it is important to take into account that as a right-footed left back, his preference is usually to turn inside around the top of the 18 yard box and look for a pass... which is not a bad thing as he completes roughly 85% of his passes an average of one scoring chance per match.

Assuming he stays healthy, expect Davide to get the lions share of the playing time at LB.

Massadio Haïdara

Part of the purchasing spree that Mike Ashley somehow saw his way clear to approve in January of 2013, Haïdara looked to be another in the mold of Gaël Bigirimana - a very young, highly rated talent purchased at a relatively high price for a young player meant to fill the gaps left by a failing Academy process. The comparisons don't stop there, however. The young Frenchman was give some chances in the Premier League as the Europa League campaign stretched on and he showed absolutely no sign that the stage was too big for him - and but for Callum McManaman's horror tackle would likely have seen more action than he did.

In the matches he did get to play, Haïdara looked composed and confident with the ball at his feet and also exhibited skill in jumping forward in the attack, counting 2 key passes in his 4 appearances and 91% passing accuracy.

Although there have been some rumors that Massadio would be loaned out for part or all of this season, it would surprise me if he were - frankly I wouldn't be surprised if he sees some time in the league and is the preferred left back for the early rounds of the cup competitions.

Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa

As I mentioned in the center back preview, MYM spent a short but very successful spell at the LB position for Alan Pardew in the latter stages of the 2012-13 season. If it somehow comes down to it, I would expect to see Yanga-Mbiwa next in the reckoning. We know he can put in a solid shift there, but it would take two injuries one way or the other for him to be pressed into service outside of the CB position this year (Santon/Haïdara or Debuchy/Haïdara) so let's just go ahead and hope he's not needed there.

Paul Dummett

21 year old Dummett looked like he was on the outside looking in last season when he was sent out on loan to St. Mirren of the Scottish Premier League and Haïdara was brought in, but apparently Alan Pardew was happy with what the Wales U-21 international picked up in his time north of the border as he led the team in total minutes played during Newcastle's pre-season matches, ostensibly to get him up to speed for potential first-team appearances this season.

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