After the Everton match on Tuesday, Steve Bruce was asked about his new signing Nabil Bentaleb and his availability for this weekend’s FA Cup game against Oxford.
Bruce said the following about whether we’d get to see our new signing on Saturday:
“Yes, I hope so. We physically worked him today. He’s in good shape, considering he hasn’t played for a while. So he’ll be in my thoughts.”
Bentaleb has joined Newcastle on loan after a very tumultuous time in Germany over the past year. He’s been suspended by his parent club Schalke four times for various incidents.
The Algerian international has also not played for the club since this past April though he had been training with Schalke’s reserves where he made two appearances.
While the disciplinary issues may be a concern, the fact that Bruce asserted he was in good shape is encouraging.
The Chronicle has endeavored to find out more about our new signing and have interviewed Bild’s Schalke reporter Marc Siekmann.
The interview concentrated on two main subjects with Bentaleb. The first is what the reporter thought he would bring to Newcastle, while the second is what went wrong at Schalke.
Siekmann describes Bentaleb as a ball-winning midfielder who can contribute offensively. While he’s not a natural box to box midfielder, he can serve in that capacity.
One thing that struck us during the interview was how Siekmann described Bentaleb’s hunger to hunt down the ball and never give it away once he gets it. That’s precisely what Newcastle are missing in the midfield.
Bentaleb also has a wonderful left foot and is an excellent penalty taker. In fact, he’s taken 14 penalties while at Schalke and converted all of them. So he could give Matt Ritchie a run as Newcastle’s appointed penalty taker.
Bentaleb can also create chances from the midfield while carrying the ball forward from deep, according to Siekmann.
The issues with discipline seem to stem from a mix of immaturity to misunderstandings. Seikmann emphasized that Bentaleb was sometimes so determined to be successful on his terms that it clouded his ability to take direction from coaches.
As far as the incidents that led to his suspensions, two were cited by Siekmann. One involved him not showing up to watch the team while injured because his wife was in the hospital.
The other one was that he and several players missed a language class. This was the final incident that led to his exile to the reserves last April
Steve Bruce could be the perfect coach for Bentaleb to bring the best out of him. Bentaleb will also be determined to make this opportunity work out for him.
If that happens, Newcastle could have an excellent midfielder for a low fee this summer.