The Magpies, under the guidance of Rafa Benítez, have quickly settled back amongst the elite and after eleven matches sit in a very respectable eleventh place.
Their success so far has been built on a resolute defence instead of an expansive attack, which many would argue is Benítez’s default setting. But given the lack of prolific striking options the Spaniard has at his disposal, making Newcastle hard to beat has proven the right approach.
Benítez is not a negative manager, he is a realist and will do what it takes to get the job done. He proved that last season as Newcastle clinched promotion from the Championship at the first attempt.
If he had the tools at his disposal then Benítez’s side would be more a little more entertaining and certainly more threatening. Which is perhaps why the Magpies will reportedly launch a January bid to sign Beşiktaş striker Cenk Tosun.
Benítez is keen to complete a £17million deal, however, after Mike Ashley put the club up for sale, securing transfer funds may prove tricky for Newcastle boss. But Tosun is exactly what the Magpies’ attack needs and you sense Benítez knows that full well.
Who is Cenk Tosun?
Born in the city of Wetzlar in Germany, Tosun’s footballing ability was apparent from an early age and he spent his formative years playing for amateur clubs SG Praunheim and SV 07 Raunheim.
It was at seven years old that Tosun got an opportunity with a professional club. He joined Eintracht Frankfurt’s youth set-up in 1997 and impressed as he moved through the age groups.
He scored 20 goals in 40 games for the club’s under-19s before netting 12 times in 17 games for Eintracht’s second string. But while Tosun’s impressive goalscoring record earned him caps for Germany at every level from under-16 to under-21, he wasn’t afforded a first-team chance at his club.
And so in January 2010 Tosun, who made just one senior appearance for Eintracht Frankfurt, opted to leave the club and join Turkish side Gaziantepspor.
So how would Tosun fare when given a chance in men’s football? Unsurprisingly given his record at youth level, it went well – he scored 12 goals and registered six assists in 18 appearances during his first six months with the club.
His second campaign would prove more challenging, he netted only seven times, but he did help the club clinch the Turkish Cup and made the decision to switch his international allegiance from Germany to Turkey, for whom he’d make his debut against Norway.
Tosun would scored 25 goals over the next two seasons for Gaziantepspor before leaving for Beşiktaş in the summer of 2014.
His first-team chances were initially limited as he completed for a starting berth against former Newcastle striker Demba Ba and then Germany international Mario Gómez. However, Tosun still scored 26 goals before he notched 24 times last season.
“I learned a lot from Demba Ba and Mario Gómez – I developed and gained a lot of experience as are both top-quality strikers,” told UEFA’s website last term.
“I increased my goal haul last season and finally felt ready to break into the starting XI. The coach trusted in me and I’m repaying his faith by scoring.”
This season Tosun has picked up where he left off. He has seven goals in 11 games, including his double against Monaco. Clubs are sitting up and taking notice. Tottenham Hotspur are also reportedly watching the striker so Newcastle may have to act quickly to get a deal done.
What would he bring to Newcastle’s attack?
First and foremost, and entirely unsurprisingly, goals. Tosun has struck 77 times in the Turkish Süper Lig in 199 games and while the division may not have the same quality as the Premier League, it is an impressive record.
His performances in the Champions League this term, however, should settle any doubts over his quality. Tosun has four goals in the groups stages and every one has been very different.
His strike against Porto was certainly the pick of the lot. Coming in off the left flank, as shown below, there didn’t appear much on for the striker.
But the 26-year-old turns into the space before unleashing a powerful drive from 30 yards that gave Porto goalkeeper Iker Casillas no chance.
That goal was a display of Tosun’s ability from distance but his double in Monaco were far more in keeping of goals scored by a traditional No.9.
His first was a close-range header after he drifted away from his marker while the second was a neat finish from ten yards with his left foot after being teed up by former Liverpool winger Ryan Babel. In the second game between the two in Turkey, Tosun confidently drilled home a penalty.
What the four goals demonstrate perfectly is that Tosun is a well-rounded striker, one that is equally adapt with both feet while also a threat in the air. He is also comfortable running with the ball, which is why he’s completed 1.8 dribbles per game in the Champions League this season.
But it is his clinical nature in front of goal that would benefit Newcastle. The Magpies have taken 145 shots this season in the Premier League, the eighth highest of any side.
And yet they’ve scored just ten goals. That means Benítez’s side are having to average 14.5 shots on goal in order to find the back of the net. Over the course of a season, that profligacy is not sustainable.
Spanish striker Joselu is the main culprit. He has taken 27 shots this term but has registered just two goals – and his strike against Liverpool at St James’ Park was extremely fortuitous.
Tosun would certainly be more of a threat given his three Champions League goals have come from just eleven shots. He also has one assist to his name against RB Leipzig, Joselu has yet to supply a goal for his teammates.
At £17million, no longer a hefty fee for a Premier League club, Tosun is certainly a signing worth making for Newcastle.
The Magpies should stay up without the striker but his arrival would certainly liven up Benítez’s attack and, who knows, maybe help the club make a push for a European spot.