Journalist Chris Waugh believes that people at Newcastle United see Alexander Isak as a right-winger and someone who will play alongside Callum Wilson.
When Wilson was subbed off injured earlier in the season, PIF and Newcastle acted quickly to ensure Eddie Howe wasn’t left short up front and they brought in Isak for a club-record fee of around £63m.
With two goals in three appearances for Newcastle, it’s been a solid start for Isak in the absence of Wilson, although his injury will now see him miss at least a few weeks – and when he returns, he may be forced to slightly change his game.
This is because Waugh has claimed on Pod on the Tyne that Newcastle see Isak as playing more on the right-hand side of Howe’s 4-3-3 system with Wilson through the middle.
He said: “If everyone is fit for Newcastle, in an ideal world, I think that Eddie Howe is looking at the front three would be Allan Saint-Maximin on the left, Alexander Isak on the right and Callum Wilson through the middle – and most of those three could almost be interchangeable in some ways as well, that he wants a sort of fluid front three and that ability to link up together.
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“That’s the theory. How that works in practice is something that we have to wait and see, but whereas he was quite definitive early on with Chris Wood – basically saying that it was sort of a case of Wood or Wilson when Newcastle signed Wood in January – he hasn’t been like that publicly. And privately, that’s my understanding as the way that they looked at it as well – that Isak had the versatility to be able to both cover for Wilson and play alongside him.”
TIF Thoughts on Isak’s role at Newcastle…
It may be seen as quite bizarre that Newcastle splashed out a club-record fee to bring in Isak, only to not fully be committed on what his position will be on Tyneside, especially when Wilson is back fit and firing.
Isak, for the majority of his career, has been deployed as a central striker, either on his own or partnered with another player, although Howe’s favoured 4-3-3 setup doesn’t allow two strikers to play up top together, so there will have to be some compromise.
That will likely come on Isak’s side given that Wilson is a proven goalscorer in the Newcastle team with 22 goals in 42 league starts and is their number nine. Hence, it’s no surprise that Howe is talking privately about Isak’s ability to play as more of a right-winger, which will allow him to field an exciting front three, as Waugh alluded to.