Eddie Howe’s Joelinton decision raises an eyebrow as Newcastle United admission made

Former Newcastle United manager Steve Bruce has admitted he never thought of playing Joelinton in the midfield role in which he has excelled at under Eddie Howe.

The Brazilian has been a revelation under Howe’s leadership, reaching a new level of success that convinced the Newcastle supporters of his ability after a tough start at St James’ Park, but has also convinced the national team to make him a part of the set-up.

Signed from Hoffenheim for a club record-fee of £40m, there was a great deal of expectation on the player’s shoulders when he arrived in the North East.

It was expectation that he didn’t always meet under Bruce, who played him as a central striker and then as the left side of an attacking three, rather than in the midfield role he now operates in.

The deal to bring Joelinton to Tyneside was done before Bruce was appointed as manager and he says he knew when he arrived that the club had not signed a striker who would score goals, but he also knew without any doubt that he had a talented player on his hands.

Speaking to William Hill and Footy Accumulators’ No Tippy Tappy Football podcast, Bruce says the brilliant Joelinton has surprised him in his new role.

“When I was in charge I picked Joelinton every week, but I knew from the moment he joined the club that he wasn’t a natural goalscorer,” said Bruce. “As soon as you put the number nine shirt on someone at Newcastle they’ve got a lot to live up to, but when he played in Germany he played on the left-hand side of a front three. I watched him play against Manchester City once and he played on the left.

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“When I came into Newcastle, the deal for Joelinton had already been done. The big thing I had to consider was the fact that he had come in as a £40 million player, the biggest signing in years for Newcastle, and he had the number nine shirt, but he wasn’t a natural goalscorer.

We played him predominantly on the left and I have to be honest in saying that I never thought of playing him in midfield but he’s excelled there. In midfield, the onus isn’t on him to score the goals and if you look at his records from when he was younger he is not a prolific goalscorer, but he’s a brilliant footballer and a great lad with a great attitude.”