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03rd Mar 2022

Joelinton: From Premier League flop to key player for Newcastle

Luke Jennings

Joelinton Newcastle

Joelinton has become a fans’ favourite on Tyneside.

Joelinton has been a revelation for Newcastle United since Eddie Howe took over as manager at St. James’ Park in November.

The 44-year-old has converted Joelinton into a box-to-box midfielder from a target man after a result of unforeseen circumstances. In the process, the Brazilian has been transformed from punchline to a key player for the Magpies.

In recent Premier League history, it is difficult to name a player who has improved so much, in such a short space of time.


Joelinton under Steve Bruce.

Newcastle signed Joelinton from Hoffenheim in the summer of 2019 for a club-record fee of £40m. The Brazilian, 25, had only scored seven goals in the Bundesliga, but Newcastle gave him the club’s famous number nine jersey and evidently saw him as having the potential to become the Toon’s main goalscorer.

Joelinton looked set to match those lofty expectations when he scored the winner away to Tottenham Hotspur in the third game of the season. Yet, he didn’t score again for the Magpies until January and ended the campaign with just two goals in 38 Premier League appearances. At this point, Joelinton was not only considered overpriced, there was talk that he may be one of the biggest flops in Premier League history.

When Newcastle signed Callum Wilson in 2020, Joelinton lost his number nine jersey, but the goalscoring burden was also reduced. The former Hoffenheim forward dropped into a support striker role and filled in on the left wing. He doubled his goal tally, ending the season with four goals, but he had still failed to even come close to justifying the transfer fee.

Joelinton’s hold-up play and ball control were impressive, but his final product was a concern. Six goals in two Premier League seasons was not ideal considering the £40m price tag. Like the rest of Newcastle’s players, Joelinton struggled in the opening months of the 2021/22 season under the much-maligned Steve Bruce.

He didn’t find the net once, did not look like a £40m player and, with the club’s takeover, looked to have an uncertain future at St. James’ Park


Joelinton under Eddie Howe.

Yet, Newcastle’s appointment of Eddie Howe as manager in November has proven to be a career-changing moment for Joelinton. The Brazilian scored in Howe’s first match in charge, a 3-3 draw. But the ex-Bournemouth coach wasn’t looking for Joelinton to lead the line and be Newcastle’s main striker.

After Ciaran Clark was sent-off for Newcastle against Norwich City, Howe reshuffled his team and put Joelinton in central midfield. The Brazilian immediately looked at home and has flourished in the position, to the surprise of many.

It turns out that, rather than being a flop or a by-word for the poor transfer dealings under the previous ownership, Joelinton was merely playing in the wrong position.


The following week he won the man-of-the-match award against Burnley as Newcastle recorded their first victory of the season.

Joelinton followed that with another stellar performance against Manchester United. The Brazilian again won the man of the match award in the 1-1 draw at St James’ Park for his all-round display. The 25-year-old controlled the tempo of the match when in possession, and displayed grit and determination to win the ball back. He had the most ball recoveries with 11, and the highest chances created with three. Joelinton stole the show.

In the reverse fixture with Brentford in February, Joelinton was on the score sheet again. His late run into the box ended with a thumping header past Bees’ keeper David Raya as Newcastle went seven games unbeaten. The Magpies moved up to 14th place after the win, and away from relegation danger.

Newcastle are currently a far cry from where they were when Bruce got sacked. No one symbolises this renaissance more than Joelinton, who is unrecognisable from the player who struggled so badly for two years in the Premier League.


Joelinton’s transformation.

In Newcastle’s recent games, the 25-year-old has played in a 4-1-4-1 formation. He operates as a box-to-box midfielder alongside Joe Willock, while Jonjo Shelvey dictates the play from behind the pair. Joelinton is Newcastle’s chief ball-winner. He has a tackle success rate of 49 per cent, comfortably ahead of Willock’s (37 per cent) and Shelvey’s (24 per cent). The Brazilian is tailor-made for Howe’s pressing style.

He also helps the team with his ability on the ball. Joelinton has been fouled 41 times this season, 17 times more than Willock, who is second-place on the list for Newcastle. The Brazilian’s close control and work rate are now key for the Toon.

The Howe era began just after the Saudi-backed consortium purchased Newcastle. The Magpies spent over £90m in the January transfer window which included the signing of Lyon’s Bruno Guimaraes for in the region of £40m.

Yet, the Brazilian international hasn’t started a game due to Joelinton’s immense performances each week. There is now talk of Willock being dropped for Bruno instead. Joelinton has become indispensable to Howe and Newcastle.

In the last few months, Joelinton has gone from being considered arguably one of the Premier League’s biggest transfer flops to a vital part of the world’s richest club.

There will be more big-money arrivals in the summer at St James’ Park, but Joelinton appears to be a mainstay for Newcastle.