Newcastle United can take defence to next level by snatching £40m deal from from Premier League rivals

Newcastle United manager Eddie Howe is believed to be keen to strengthen his defence as the Magpies challenge on four fronts this season.

One of the key factors in Newcastle United’s remarkable performances across the 2022/23 season was their defensive discipline and organisation.

Little was expected of Eddie Howe’s side as they looked to build on the foundations of a historic rise from what seemed a near-certain relegation to the safety provided by mid-table during the second half of the previous campaign.

With goalkeeper Nick Pope added to their ranks during the summer and Lille centre-back Sven Botman joining weeks later, a new look Magpies backline produced remarkable results as they conceded just 33 goals in 38 league games, a total only matched by champions Manchester City.

That all played an integral role in helping Howe’s side claim a top four place and a spot in this season’s Champions League – but it also led to an expectation the Magpies backline could produce similar results this season. That is why there seemed some surprise when United conceded seven goals in their opening four games of the current campaign, winning just one of those fixtures in the process.

But with Fabian Schar now in the final year of his current contract, there is a feeling a new big money signing could be made to replace the Swiss international and that has led to speculation Newcastle could make a move for Crystal Palace and Denmark defender Joachim Andersen as he continues to impress for Roy Hodgson’s side.

What has Andersen said about his future?

Speaking during the international break last month, Andersen – who has two years remaining on his deal at Selhurst Park, told Danish outlet Ekstra Bladet: “There were a few things back and forth, but nothing concrete. It’s not always something I’m in control of.

“I want to play in the biggest and best clubs in the world, but it is not always up to me when to change.

“But I’m 27, and if I’m going to make a transfer, it should preferably be within the next few years. I’m not getting any younger, and if a club is going to pay for me, they have to be able to see some perspective in it too.”

What has Roy Hodgson said about Andersen?

The Denmark international may well have scored a memorable winner as his side collected all three points at Manchester United on Saturday – but he has already been lauded by his manager for a notable performance earlier this season.

Speaking after Andersen netted in a 1-1 draw at Brentford in August, Eagles boss Roy Hodgson left nobody in any doubt over his thoughts on the powerful centre-back and his ability.

He said: “I thought Joachim Andersen was the outstanding player today in our team and maybe the outstanding player on the field.

“I thought he was a colossus today, he won every header in both ends of the field and I thought he won every challenge he went into, he was a leader figure and he drove the team forward. I think it was very fitting that he got the goal even though it wasn’t a classic.”Crystal Palace's Joachim Andersen expected to be out for three weeks with  calf injury - The AthleticHow does Andersen compare to Fabian Schar and Sven Botman?

Using stats from the 2022/23 season provided by the website, we can look at how the Crystal Palace star compares to Newcastle’s current first-choice partnership at the heart of their defence.

First and foremost, we will focus on his defensive statistics, despite the present day preference for a defender’s ability to be judged on their comfort in possession and passing statistics.

Andersen posted a lower successful tackle percentage than either United defender after he won exactly 50% of the challenges he made across the season, compared to Botman’s 78.6% and Schar’s 61.5%. He does have a higher average of tackles and interceptions than Botman (2.14 compared to 2.07) but falls short of Schar’s 2.78.

One key area where Andersen does better his potential team-mates is in the air as he won 71.9% of his aerial challenges compared to Botman’s 65.2% and Schar’s 67.1%.

Now for those all-important passing stats. Given Eddie Howe’s preference for building from his defence, Botman and Schar have both proven their capability of bringing the ball out of the backline and there has also been a notable improvement from club captain Jamaal Lascelles when he replaced the injured Botman over the last two games.

Andersen’s stats over last season are impressive, with the Eagles centre-back averaging 74.5 touches per game coupled with a total of 1318 ball carries leading to a progressive carrying distance of 3,787 yards across the season.

That compares favourably to Botman’s 59.8 touches per game, 1171 ball carries and progressive carrying distance of 2,810 yards. Schar sits between his current and possible future team-mates with 62.8 touches per game and 1214 ball carries but does sit at the top of the list of progressive carrying distance with 4,115 yards

The 3AM Verdict

It seems increasingly likely a centre-back will be the next area for an upgrade for the ambitious Magpies as they look to ensure their Champions League adventures become a more regular feature of life at St. James’ Park.

The ever-improving recruitment system at the club means several potential additions from across Europe will be monitored over the coming months – but Andersen does seem to fit their profile Eddie Howe prefers in his defenders and would also provide Premier League experience.

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