Over the course of the summer transfer window, Newcastle United have signed three players – Curtis Good, Gael Bigirimana, and Romain Amalfitano. Amalfitano being the most likely to break into the first team over the season, the three signings are seen more as to increase the quality of depth in the Newcastle squad, as opposed to strengthening the starting eleven itself.

The weakest link the actual starting eleven is arguably the right back position. Newcastle’s Danny Simpson, now in the last year of his contract, was statistically the best right back in the premier league, yet many fans agree that he isn’t good enough to start for a team that will potentially try to crack the top four next season. And with the former Manchester United defender seemingly unwilling to extend his contract, the club have been searching for an alternative. Notable, Yohan Cabaye’s friend and former Lille team mate, Mattieu Debuchy. The Debuchy deal has been drawn out across the summer, and appears to be dead after considerable to and fro with the powers that be at the French club, with the President refusing any sale of the want away right back.

Whilst the Frenchman has issued a come and get me plea, and seems desperate to leave the club he has served admirably for two decades with a move to Tyneside, it is still up in the air whether a move will transpire. However, to the delight of Newcastle fans, this doesn’t mean that there will be no incoming players this window. Recent reports have confirmed a deal between Newcastle and Ajax for versatile Dutch utility man, Vurnon Anita. Anita is a player that many English fans probably knew little of before being linked to a move to the North East.

However, the player is a well known face in Holland, having made his debut for the Dutch giants in March 2006, at the tender age of 16. In fact, the only player to make his Ajax debut at a younger age was Clarence Seedorf – a name that many will surely be familiar with. And Anita is already being compared to the Dutch legend. While he started out his career as a left back, Anita has since moved to playing as a defensive midfielder. Being only 5’6, his size would make him suit the fullback role, and not quite similar to Newcastle’s own midfield destroyer, Cheick Tiote.

So what can Anita bring to Newcastle, and why have the club decided to bring him in – despite the need for another striker and centre back being more urgent? Clearly, his versatility is a key attribute, with players like James Perch, Ryan Taylor and Jonas Gutierrez playing in multiple roles last season indicating Pardew’s appreciation of a utility man. The fact he can play at left back would certainly help for cover over the course of the season, yet it will likely be as a defensive midfielder that he has been targeted for.

In the later part of last season, when Newcastle found a scintillating run of form, they were mostly playing a 4-2-3-1 formation. With Gutierrez partnering Tiote to hold the midfield, allowing Cabaye to roam forward and adding to the attack – his two goals and one assist against Stoke demonstrating that. Personally, I feel that this is the formation most suited to the players at Newcastle’s disposal, and bringing in Anita would only strengthen that. Anita holding the midfield along with Tiote, allowing Gutierrez to move back to the left wing – with Marveaux providing competition. The only real downside to playing this formation is playing a lone striker – meaning that Ba and Cisse would have to be rotated. Clearly this would limit the potency of the Senegalese pair, and may lead to unhappiness of whoever gets benched – so it may be more a formation used in luxury, with Pardew mostly going with a combination of the tried and tested 4-4-2.

The joy of Anita being a utility player means that it gives extra options for the squad and formations, which would make the side all the more difficult to defend against – with Pardew being able to switch around formations on the fly during a match, without having to make any substitutions. Needless to say, many will be hoping that young Anita will prove to be as successful as other signings over the last year.

By Dan Renshaw