April 23, 2024

With Kieran Trippier faltering, Newcastle have been connected with a very gifted young right-back; we take a look at what he could bring to St. James’ Park.

Newcastle United have had a number of issues to deal with in recent months, but one of the biggest is the one at right-back, which they will have to address sooner rather than later. The simple fact is that Kieran Trippier isn’t getting any younger, and at 33 years old is currently on what could be his worst run of form since his debut at Burnley. It’s no surprise that the Magpies have been linked with a move for one of Europe’s most promising full-backs.

Red Bull Salzburg’s Bosnian wing-back Amar Dedi has established himself as one of Europe’s most gifted wide defenders over the last couple of seasons, and the 21-year-old’s improvement over the course of 2023 was remarkable – little wonder, then, that Newcastle, Chelsea, Arsenal, and AS Roma have all been linked with a move. He is still a development prospect, but he might easily be Trippier’s long-term replacement.

Dedi joined RB Salzburg at the age of 13 and, after successful loan spells elsewhere in Austria, has now established himself as a regular in the first-team at the same club that launched Erling Haaland, Sadio Mané, Naby Keta, Dayo Upamecano, and countless other hugely successful players. The Bosnian comes from a pipeline that has generated an unbelievable amount of talent.

He has almost every quality you could want in a modern full-back: he’s a superb tackler who reads the game well and knows when to lunge in and when to hold back, he’s got plenty of pace and energy to make lung-busting runs down the flank, he’s got excellent movement in the final third, he’s a brilliant dribbler, and he’s got a keen eye for sharp passing moves that take defenders out. He isn’t too big, yet he has the height and strength to keep off forwards who can outmuscle smaller full-backs.

Those characteristics have been around for a few years, but it is only this season that he has demonstrated a clear understanding of how to exploit his natural skill. The danger he’s become around the area is a perfect example of how far he’s come – after scoring three goals in his first 59 Austrian Bundesliga matches, he’s matched that total in just 16 this season, demonstrating not only some very cool finishing but also the ability to time runs to perfection, ghosting past defenders at the back post or arriving late through the middle. His comprehension of the game is impressive for such a young player, and he has the talent to capitalize on it. It’s also a credit to his maturity that he was named captain of Salzburg at the start of the season.

 

Top European clubs track RB Salzburg right-back Amar Dedic

Dedi is also nearly two-footed, which allows him to threaten defenders on both sides of the ball and keep possession moving down the field – and while he probably doesn’t have Trippier’s quality of delivery from wide right, and certainly doesn’t have his experience and nous, he has the skillset required to replace him in the long run.

Of course, Newcastle have already invested in their future at full-back, signing Tino Livramento and Lewis Hall in the summer – although the latter is only on loan and has yet to make an impact since joining from Chelsea, while the former has excelled as a stop-gap left-back. Eddie Howe might want another option moving forward, and Dedi can also play on the left side. If Hall has fallen short of expectations, signing Dedi makes a lot of sense from a squad-building standpoint.

Someone will sign the young Bosnian sooner rather than later – it might not be Newcastle, and it might not be in January, but he won’t be in Austria for long. He’d also make sense for Chelsea, given Reece James’ continued injury troubles, and possibly for Arsenal, if they want to build up their squad depth given that they don’t have many choices beyond Ben White and the likely departing Takehiro Tomiyasu. However, of all the Premier League sides who might use some reinforcements at right back, Newcastle may stand to benefit the most from the transaction.
It’s unclear how much he’d cost – José Mourinho’s Roma attempted to sign him last summer but were turned down, with reports putting the price at roughly €25 million (£21.6 million). Dedi will not be cheap, but for what may be a sizable sum, someone will receive one of the most naturally gifted, hard-working, and mature young full-backs in the world. Even if Trippier, one of the most consistent superb players of the Howe era, isn’t finished yet, Dedi has enough quality to justify the signing on his own.

 

 

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