Although injury ensured Alexander Isak couldn’t hit the ground running at Newcastle United, the Swede is emphatically making up for lost time since returning.
Having scored seven in his last nine games and now up to 10 Premier League goals from 17 appearances, Newcastle’s £63 million record signing has been exceptional of late.
In absolutely scintillating form and terrorising defences, his sensational recent showings have powered him above Callum Wilson in the pecking order, for the electric forward is ostensibly now unstoppable.
Nigh on impossible to stop when in full flight and on top of his game, defenders have had a torrid time stopping the multifaceted flyer.
“The manager can’t leave him out now. Not with the form he’s in, the quality he’s shown, the goals he’s scored and how dangerous he looks. The Forest performance really demonstrated what he’s all about,” insisted former Magpies legend, Alan Shearer.
Second to only the phenomenal Erling Haaland for goals per 90, there’s been much to admire about his classy finishing in his purple patch. Clinical, efficient and oozing confidence, it’s been a joy to behold him slotting 1v1s coolly while under pressure, reacting rapidly to rebounds or balls into his path, parlaying power and finesse from tight angles, nodding headers home and hitting shots accurately from all over.
Instinctive with his movement and handy at reading the play, this has held him in good stead to be ideally situated to be such a menace in and around the box.
Timing his run in behind, down the channels and into the box superbly, this, in alliance with his breathtaking pace and nous to gain separation has amplified his threat.
Quick to identify gaps in opposition rearguards, get free by holding his runs and using his dynamic advantage over his ball facing foes to take advantage of weaknesses, these details have further elevated his effectiveness.
Forever stretching and asking questions of opposing defences, his presence also sees him create room for colleagues to exploit due to him dragging out foes or pinning multiple markers.
Isak’s awareness to vacant zones also sees him drop deep successfully to link play between the lines and in more traditional central midfield areas, where he can combine smoothly, turn and charge or hold up the ball while waiting for an option.
Such an asset with the ball at his feet and relishing 1v1s, the 23-year-old’s wicked dribbling, which means he can impact in transition and in methodical build up, certainly puts defenders on the back foot.
Able to beat foes with electrifying changes of pace and direction, crafty feints and shimmies and with his slick turns, Isak uses his prowess here to wriggle free to shoot, keep surging upfield or to open passing lanes.
Meanwhile, in terms of his passing, he’s shown that he’s a handy contributor when obliging runners with tidy through balls, engaging in nifty combination play and switching the angle of attacks.
By the numbers, the fact his 0.77 goals per 90, 4.91 touches inside the box p90, 4.14 attempted dribbles p90, 2.84 shots p90, 1.69 progressive runs p90 and 0.46 shot assists p90 accentuates his worth.
Bringing so much to the table for Eddie Howe’s Magpies and going a long way towards repaying the club’s faith in him, Isak’s been a real game changer for Newcastle.
Helping propel them to great things in their quest to achieve a coveted Champions League qualification spot, something that they now appear destined to achieve, he’s given them a real spark to enhance their danger.
Possessing just about all the traits needed to be a success in the Premier League, the unpredictable and immensely talented marksman has emerged as one of the buys of the campaign.
Rising to the occasion and standing up when granted an opportunity, there’s no denying what an unmistakable influence he’s having.
Determined to sustain his level to keep his starting place ahead of the similarly excellent Wilson, Isak definitely won’t want to let up, for he knows his colleague is chomping at the bit to replace him (as Howe often prefers to go with a single striker).
“Isak is a prime example of what I would call a modern forward, more in the mould of a Mo Salah or Sadio Mane, rather than a Haaland, who is the definition of a No 9,” Shearer insisted to The Athletic.
“He’s an athlete; he’s nimble, quick and very good on the ball, able to bring others into the game. He’s very different to Callum, who’s more of a poacher, a goalscorer, a centre-forward.”
Going from strength to strength and with still massive scope for improvement as he further adapts to the league and his teammates, expect Isak to continue getting better in time – which is a frightening proposition for his opponents moving forward.