On 23rd July, 2019, Newcastle United finalized their first signing of the summer: 22-year old forward Joelinton. That the Brazilian arrives at a particularly embattled moment for the club might be an undersell.

United sold their key attacker (Ayoze Pérez), passed on retaining their best two-way striker they’ve had in the modern era (Salomon Rondón), and sold an industrious if ineffective back-up striker. The only striker left in the cupboard is 29-year old Dwight Gayle, who posted one of the worst ‘expected goal’ performances in the ’17-’18 Premier League campaign.

In other words, Joelinton being handed the No. 9 shirt might have more to do with circumstance and hope than it does with reflecting his pedigree.

Personnel turmoil aside, there are reasons to be excited for Joelinton’s performances (though cynics will caution against falling too deeply in love before he’s inevitably flipped).

Vitals

  • Position: Forward – Primarily a CF, but has featured as RW and SS on occasion
  • Age: 22 (D.O.B – 14th August, 1996)
  • Height: 1.86 m
  • Club Career record: 35 goals + 22 assists in 127 appearances
  • International Career: 2 goals in 4 appearances for the Brazil U17s
  • Contract Status: Summer 2025 (6-year contract)

 

Club Career Summary

Sport Recife

  • Born in Aliança, Pernambuco, Joelinton joined Sport Recife in 2012, at the age of 16.
  • Spent two years playing in the youth team.
  • Made professional debut in March 2014
  • Made seven appearances in the following 2014 Campeonato Brasileiro Série A season
  • Established himself in the first team in the 2015 state league.

Hoffenheim

  • In June 2015, Hoffenheim signed Joelinton on a five-year contract.
  • He played only once in his first season in Germany, as a last-minute substitute on 18 December.

Loan to Rapid Wien

  • On 23 June 2016, Joelinton was loaned to Rapid Wien for two years.
  • He made his debut on 8 July in the first round of the Austrian Cup, scoring the opening goal of a 3–1 victory.
  • He played all ten of Rapid’s 2016–17 UEFA Europa League matches, scoring in a 3–2 win over Genk on 15 September and a 1–1 draw with Athletic Bilbao at the Allianz Stadion on 8 December.
  • His ’16-’17 totals (Austrian Bundesliga + Europa League + ÖFB-Cup): 13 goals + 6 assists in 44 apps
  • His ’17-’18 totals (Austrian Bundesliga + ÖFB-Cup): 8 goals + 2 assists in 31 apps

Return to Hoffenheim

  • On his return to Hoffenheim, Joelinton was given a first start in a DFB-Pokal first round match and scored a hat-trick in a 6–1 victory.
  • He netted his first Bundesliga goal on 22 September to open a 1–1 home draw with Borussia Dortmund
  • His total returns for the ’18-’19 (Bundesliga+Champions League+DFB-Pokal): 11 goals + 9 assists in 35 appearances

Style of Play

In Attack

Joelinton’s attacking approach shares overlap with the recently departed Ayoze Perez: heavy emphasis in buildup and creating for others, and is able to score from either foot. Joelinton is the same height as Rondón, and is also adept at producing headed goals.

He’s a capable dribbler, and again Pérez is a touchstone – they have a nearly identical successful dribble rate (Joelinton’s 57% to Ayo’s 54%). Joelinton, however, is immediately the most industrious dribbler in the squad, (which is an area the squad is sorely lacking). Picture someone that attempts dribbles as often as Kenedy but completes them quite a bit more often.

Like nearly every young striker, Joelinton lags behind his “expected goal” output a bit, but that should improve with playtime.

Lastly, while no one will likely ever replicate the bottled lightning that was Hatem Ben Arfa, this clip demonstrates that Joelinton has a bit of magic in him to offer.

In Defence

One thing that will be nigh-impossible to replace in Pérez is high industry in defence. The good news is that Joelinton’s efforts in Hoffenheim’s campaign aren’t too far from the pace Ayo set.

Here’s a stats study comparing Joelinton, Pérez, and Bernardo Silva for good measure (Silva is an attacking midfielder that is quite competent in the defensive phases).

Unfortunately, stats here are “per game”, rather than “per 90” so pinch some salt reading through this.

Takeaways:

  • Joelinton’s 2 fouls per game is pretty high, but that’s a good thing – this shows someone is aggressive and willing to challenge. The discipline can still develop.
  • Joelinton has both a low clearances rate, a low interceptions rate, and a low ‘dribbled past per game’ rate – this can be partially explained that he was usually deployed as the right striker in a 3-5-2 setup. Ayo & Bernardo tended to play in deeper parts of their formations.
  • However, Joelinton’s 1.3 tackles per game as a striker is promising, indeed

Advanced Stats

Though Joelinton’s attacking tendencies tend to overlap Ayoze Pérez, his actual production mirrored Rondón’s. Here’s a radar plot of advanced stats, per 90:

Takeaways:

  • Rondón features as the more prolific shot-taker and goal-scorer, while Joelinton profiles as more productive in buildup and in chance creation
  • Generally speaking, these stats are very, very close across the board – however, it should be noted that Hoffenheim were one of the highest scoring sides in the Bundesliga last season. Joelinton’s output will probably regress with United this season.
  • Small note: Rondón HUGELY outperformed his ‘expected assists’ output last season. There’s a thinkpiece in that stat somewhere

In Conclusion

While Joelinton’s finishing and overall goalmouth productivity are raw, he has shown the ability to have presence in buildup and defensive phases. His chance creation metrics and dribbling rates place near, if not the top, of Newcastle’s performers in those categories.

The worrying stat is, of course, goals scored. At the cusp of turning only 23, and demonstrating ability to score from headers as well his left & right foot, it is fair to say that he will become clinical with more experience. 

Joelinton is a promising attacker with size, speed, technique, and flair. The potential to become one of the better scorers in the Premier League is there within the lad.