Bruno Guimaraes has been one of the standout midfielders in the world since joining Newcastle in 2022 and the Brazilian showed he was capable of even more after excelling in a more advanced role against Nottingham Forest.
Guimaraes grabbed a brace to lead Newcastle to a 3-2 win over Forest and the 26-year-old admitted after the game that he ‘missed’ the feeling of playing further forward and thanked manager Eddie Howe for giving him ‘freedom’, having spent the majority of his time at St James’ Park playing as a deeper number six.
Newcastle’s midfield has seen numerous reshuffles this season due to long-term absences for key players such as Sandro Tonali, Joelinton and Joe Willock, leading to Howe being forced into an imbalanced trio of Guimaraes, Sean Longstaff and teenager Lewis Miley.
The Magpies have conceded a league-worst 25 goals in their last ten games, prompting a tactical switch from Howe where Guimaraes played further forward, while Kieran Trippier played more inverted to provide support to Miley and Longstaff in midfield.
The change proved pivotal, giving Newcastle just their third win in the last ten Premier League games and inspired by Guimaraes providing a goal threat from midfield, having only scored just once previously this season.
With Guimaraes already highly-coveted by Europe’s top sides, the showcasing of his attacking prowess will only elevate interest in him, while also demonstrating to Howe the need to sign a defensive midfielder to unlock his star man’s true potential.
“Let the people speak” 🗣️
Bruno Guimarães talks through his goals and celebration against Nottingham Forest 🔊 pic.twitter.com/EhIdEcEorZ
— Sky Sports Premier League (@SkySportsPL) February 10, 2024
Newcastle still searching for midfield identity
Newcastle raised eyebrows when they made Tonali the club’s joint-record signing in the summer, partially due to the €64 million man having a similar playstyle to Guimaraes instead of providing a more defensive compliment to allow the Brazil international to play his preferred number eight role.
While Tonali and Guimaraes only played 11 games together before the Italian was handed a season-ending suspension, the belief was that Howe preferred to have technical midfielders capable of playing multiple roles instead of a specialist defensive number six.
Consequently, Guimaraes has continued to sit at the base of Newcastle’s midfield, which has limited his ability to contribute in the final third despite the 26-year-old thriving in the role.
Reports have claimed that Guimaraes’ requested more opportunities to play further forward during contract negotiations last year and the presence of a release clause worth more than €100m in his new deal means Newcastle cannot afford to risk their talisman’s happiness.
Newcastle will pursue another midfielder in the summer and likes of Amadou Onana and Phillip Billing are said to be high on Howe’s shortlist, suggesting that he has taken note of the need for a more industrious alternative.
Signing a true number six will ultimately prove pivotal for Newcastle’s success on and off the pitch by allowing Guimaraes to play to his strengths and potentially keeping him satisfied enough to see his long-term future on Tyneside.