Eddie Howe has hailed Fabian Schar’s £3million move to Newcastle United as an “incredible piece of business”. The Switzerland international is approaching four-and-a-half years on Tyneside following his mostly unknown arrival from Deportivo La Coruna.
Prior to Howe’s appointment as head coach in November last year, Schar, entering the remaining months of his contract, looked set for the exit door after falling out-of-favour under Steve Bruce.
But the 30-year-old is one of Howe’s many player transformation stories. Out of any Magpies defender under Howe, Schar has featured the most, with his form during the second half of last season pivotal to keeping United in the Premier League - and earning himself a new two-year contract.
Perhaps most impressively, Schar has continued that form into the new campaign. After 15 games, 14 of which Schar has started, United boast the joint-best defence in the Premier League (seven clean sheets and just 11 goals conceded) and occupy a Champions League spot in third.
It isn’t just Schar, of course, with Nick Pope, Kieran Trippier, Sven Botman and Dan Burn regularly a part of the backline - but neither of the quartet cost as little as the Swiss defender did in 2018, a deal that perhaps epitomises Mike Ashley’s bargain basement transfer policy.
There were a lot of deals Newcastle got wrong under Ashley, but there can be no complaints about Schar, who is very much an unsung hero.
“That’s an incredible piece of business when you look back, £3million,” said Howe, speaking to the media last month. “You don’t get a lot these days for that and Fabby has certainly proved his worth for us. Fabby is a hugely important part of our team. He has been a consistent part of our team, he’s been a consistent performer for us.
“He had an excellent game against Manchester United, really, really good together with Sven (Botman). They had to play very well in order for us to get anything in a difficult away game. His use of the ball is very good, he’s very composed but I think in the last few games, there has been a growth in his performances.
“His defensive mindset has been very consistent, he’s very brave with his defending so I’ve been pleased with the pair of them in the last few games, I think they have formed a good partnership.”