Islam Slimani was undoubtedly the highlight of the past transfer window. Newcastle United finally got their man. Even if for a loan period. This period will be the most important as Rafa Benitez prepares for another relegation battle as the Newcastle United manager. Islam Slimani’s fate is tied to whether or not he is successful in helping prevent what many pundits believe is inevitable. Relegation.
Slimani’s time at Leicester was imperfect, to say the least. He wasn’t prolific, and he wasn’t a starter. For a club that suddenly seemed bursting with talent, Slimani became an afterthought. He certainly isn’t worth £20m in my eyes, and I think a lot of fans will agree. But it doesn’t mean he can’t make an impact for us.
The problem is, can he produce with the players that we have feeding him? Sure, Matt Ritchie can throw some crosses his way. I bet Jonjo Shelvey could be a serious asset to the success of Slimani at the club. But in general, can we really rely on our “playmakers” to make the plays that set up the goal?
It’s been a struggle all season. Granted, our strikers have not made the most of the chances that have been given to them. Dwight Gayle has been anything but good, and my top choice Aleksandar Mitrovic not only wasn’t started, but was sent on loan. We need a guy that can finish when given the opportunity.
In a few days we may actually get the opportunity to test him as Newcastle United takes on Manchester United in what will likely be throttling of our squad. I have no illusions here that we will pull out a win, but surely it will be a test of Slimani’s resolve and the resolve of our playmakers to make things happen. If we can even set up three opportunities and capitalize on one against Manchester United, then certainly I have no doubt that safety is in our future. But if our club cannot make offense happen in the slightest, then we’re in for a pretty rough second half of the season.
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