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How Do You Solve a Problem like Joelinton?

The headline isn't rhetorical, I genuinely want to know, as its got me scratching my head. Our £40million record signing was handed the number nine shirt at the start of the season and has so far only found the net once. Signed from Hoffenheim, the Brazilian found the net just seven times in twenty six appearances in the Bundesliga last season and hasn't even been called up to a Brazil national squad since U17 level. So why did the club, famous for clutching the purse strings, decide to splash the cash on "Big Joe"?

After the club failed to tie down last seasons top goalscorer Salomon Rondon to a permanent deal in the summer, finding a replacement was always going to be tricky. Given the shambolic change in manager, and the clubs scouting team under instruction to find players who can play in our current system, Head of recruitment Steve Nickson, saw promise in Joelinton and along with Lee Charnley got the deal "over the line".

After the first few games of the season, my first impressions of our new striker, who was more accustomed to playing on the left of a front three, was that he was a solid, hard-working forward, who with time and experience could prove to be a young Rondon. At times he's looked isolated and lacked service, but still thought there was potential there, whilst he was bedding into a new look front three with Allan Saint-Maximin and Miguel Almiron. In the win against Spurs, where he dispatched one of only two attempts on goal past Hugo Lloris, we all hoped this would kick start his season. However, this has failed to materialise. Miserable performances against Aston Villa and Southampton, as well as poor finishing in the win against Bournemouth, saw calls from the fans for him to be dropped to the bench.

Steve Bruce eventually heeded the call and Joelinton was dropped to the bench for the win at Sheffield United. But injuries to both Almiron and Saint-Maximin meant that Joelinton was recalled to the team for Burnley away. This time "Big Joe" was placed in the slightly more familiar role of left wing, but still no major improvement was seen. So what do Newcastle do with him?


Calls to sell Joelinton in January or at the end of the season seem harsh and highly unlikely, as the chances of recouping anywhere near £40 million for him are slim. Loaning him out seems a ridiculous proposition too, as then a replacement will still need to be sourced, costing more money the club obviously don't want to spend. The January transfer window is renowned for being tricky to buy players at the right price, so the days of bringing in three or four players, like we did in January 2013, are long gone.

Moving him to the left and persevering is another option. After all, it would be unfair to judge him there on one game, particularly a game away at Burnley. With Allan Saint-Maximan out until the new year, playing Almiron and Joelinton off Carroll may well be a short-term solution, as Joelinton may prove to be a bit more useful than inconsistent Christian Atsu.

I do have a great deal of sympathy for him. He's only just turned 23 years old, and the Premier League is an unforgiving environment for new young players to the league. He didn't choose his price tag either, and would we really expect the same of a 23 year old striker from the academy with a goal record similar to his? I doubt it. But at the end of the day, strikers are judged on goals, and his United record so far, is worse than Joselu's, who ironically has been on fire for Alaves this season.

So it looks like we're stuck with him now, which hopefully in the long-term pays off. I still see potential in him to be a similar player to Rondon, but I think he needs to be boxing clever in his positional play. He often comes too deep to get the ball, leaving nobody in a position to create a chance on goal. This is why he appears so isolated and can often go missing in games. The matches drawn at home to Watford and Brighton were there for the taking if Carroll, who has had some impact in games, most notably in the Sheffield United win, had been fully fit,. But with Carroll's reliably unreliable injury record, Dwight Gayle barely being utilised, and Muto who will no doubt be leaving sooner rather than later, Joelinton needs to learn and learn quickly about what is required of him in the Premier League. We cannot keep relying on defenders and Jonjo Shelvey to score the goals all season, as we will come unstuck sooner rather than later.

So, How do you solve a problem like Joelinton? I do not know, but Steve Bruce is going to need all of that managerial experience of his to solve this one!

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