Eddie Howe says Newcastle need Bruno Guimaraes to be at his best for his team to tick.
The 26-year-old Brazil international has hit top form in recent weeks after battling his way through a persistent ankle injury which hampered him for several months, and at times prevented him from reaching the heights of his first few months in England.
However, he was one of the Magpies’ star performers in their Premier League victories over Chelsea and Manchester United either side of a 1-1 Champions League draw at Paris St Germain in which he also excelled, and his return to that level could hardly have been better timed for head coach Howe as he contends with an ongoing selection crisis.
He said: “You need your top players to play really well when you’re in a situation like this that we’re in at the moment, and I think Bruno has certainly done that.
“I thought Manchester United and Chelsea, were up there with his best performances, and the first half against PSG.
“I think he was very, very good with the ball, very creative, managed to get himself connected with the players in front of him. But also off the ball, I thought he was really good, physically excellent, pressed really well.
“He’s such an important person to that part of the game for us that it is hard work for him physically, but he’s able to repeat those physical exertions that we need him to, so I think his game’s in a very good place.
“It has to be for us to perform well because he’s at the fulcrum of everything really.”
Newcastle United are thrilled to announce the signing of Bruno Guimarães from Olympique Lyonnais on a four-and-a-half year deal.
Bem vindo, @brunoog97!
— Newcastle United FC (@NUFC) January 30, 2022
Guimaraes arrived at St James’ Park in a £35million switch from French side Lyon in January 2022 and, having been eased into the team, he endeared himself to his manager, team-mates and the club’s fans alike with a series of high-quality individual displays which inspired those around him amid a remarkable drive to safety.
However, he left Fulham in January on crutches and wearing a protective boot after damaging his ankle, and despite a swift recovery initially, it was a problem which recurred repeatedly over several months and his form suffered as a result.
Asked how debilitating that injury was, Howe said: “I don’t know, only Bruno could answer that, really.
“I was aware in certain games he might twist his ankle again and be sore for a period of time, but then he’d always come back from that and be able to sort of run it off.
“I don’t recall him missing many training sessions from it, so I think he’s handled that really well.”
Guimaraes will hope to continue in his rich vein at Tottenham on Sunday, with the Magpies looking to bounce back from Thursday night’s 3-0 defeat at Everton, and Howe is looking for even more from him.
He said: “We want to see him influencing games, deciding games with his quality and if we can continually feed him with the ball, then he’s got the qualities to open up any defence.”