Newcastle's most expensive signing in three years is a colossal flop
Background photo: Ardfern, CC BY-SA 3.0
Newcastle United’s most expensive signing in the last five transfer windows is Jacob Murphy. His future at St James’ Park is uncertain due to a lack of form and game time since being brought in from Norwich City in July 2017.
Murphy hasn't carried the weight of expectation at United, finding it too difficult to replicate his Championship form in the Premier League. At Norwich, the winger had the pace to beat any opponent in a foot race and a good eye for goal. He created numerous chances for his teammates but hasn’t displayed those qualities since his move to Newcastle.
A step too far
Murphy contributed 17 goals in 37 Championship games for Norwich before joining Newcastle. He scored one goal and made one assist in 25 Premier League outings last season and has just one assist to his name in the top-flight this campaign. Wembley-born, he epitomises the phrase you can never go home.
The step-up in quality from the Championship to the Premier League could be a factor. Murphy only averages five passes-per-game in 2018/19 while creating a single chance and making just three successful dribbles. Only three of his 15 crosses have met their intended target.
Poor form left the 23-year-old out of Rafa Benitez's starting rotation, beginning in October. He appeared in six of the Magpies' first eight games but racked up a paltry 74 minutes in the last three months.
More baffling is that Murphy has been dropped from the matchday squad on numerous occasions despite Newcastle struggling for goals this season. His long-term future in the North-East could be in doubt. Only Huddersfield Town (13) have scored fewer goals than the Magpies (15) after 21 games. Murphy’s continued absence is telling.
Out through the window?
With Matt Ritchie, Christian Atsu and Kenedy preferred on the wings, Murphy may need to consider his options. The winger might need to drop down a division considering he’s struggled to make an impact in 18 months of being in the Premier League.
Huddersfield and Derby have been linked with a loan move but Benitez isn’t keen to let him go. The Spaniard has no cover at the position. Having given the player less than 300 minutes of Premier League football this season, it might be hard for the Newcastle boss to convince Murphy to stay. A move could be sanctioned if Toon bring in a replacement.
For Murphy's confidence and development, it might be best to spend six months at a club willing to give him regular playing time. A Premier League club would have to be truly desperate [put your hand down, Herr Wagner] to do that for a player who's ridden the bench most of the season. Murphy's best form came in the Championship. A second-tier switch could be the solution to get his career back on track.
Newcastle haven’t signed a more expensive player than the 23-year-old in the last 35 months but he’s not lived up to his billing. Time away to turn things around seems the best advice. It’s been a disappointing 18 months at St James’ Park. Will Rafa give him a chance to thrive elsewhere?