Newcastle United’s ‘underrated’ Mr. Consistent nears crazy Kevin De Bruyne stat - one of Rafa Benitez’s best?

Jacob Murphy has rarely let Newcastle United down when called upon since arriving in 2017

Only Kevin De Bruyne, Raphinha and Pedro Neto have managed fewer minutes per assist across Europe’s top five leagues than Jacob Murphy this season.

Rafa Benitez persuaded Mike Ashley to stump up £12million for the winger from Norwich City following Premier League promotion in 2017. He was the marquee arrival, with the late Christian Atsu also making his move permanent to excite supporters. 

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Florian Lejeune, Joselu, Mikel Merino and Javier Manquillo were further signings as Benitez aimed to cement Newcastle United’s top-flight status. However, only Murphy survives from that crop of players tasked with keeping the Magpies in the division.

That is despite the former England under-21 international struggling to make an impact for his first five seasons on Tyneside. Just 16 Premier League starts in his first two campaigns resulted in loan spells at West Bromwich Albion and Sheffield Wednesday, where he impressed.

Murphy seemed destined to be staying on the books until his contract ran down but he realigned his game to become a useful squad player. With parents from Birtley and Ashington, the 29-year-old grew up in a Toon-daft environment and that showed when his Newcastle career came full circle. 

The wideman was visibly emotional as the Champions League music blared out at the San Siro - 20 years on from Newcastle’s last appearance in the competition. Murphy, deemed surplus to requirements before Eddie Howe’s arrival, will never be the player kids want on the back of their shirts but the stats prove how underrated he has become.

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Murphy averages 177.2 minutes per assist in the Premier League. Only Man City ace De Bruyne (118.6 minutes), Barcelona sensation Raphinha (135.3 minutes) and Wolves talisman Neto (167.3 minutes) have performed better.

That is likely why he - not Miguel Almiron - will stay at St James’ Park next season when Toon chiefs shuffle the pack this summer. Newcastle need another right-sided attacker but those stats, coupled with his versatility, prove Murphy can stick around for another year.

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