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Anita urges Newcastle to complete permanent de Jong deal
De Jong's loan deal from Borussia Monchengladbach includes an automatic buyout clause that enables the Magpies to complete a permanent transfer for around £8m this summer, and Alan Pardew will spend the next two months pondering whether to add the Holland international to his ranks.
On the plus side, de Jong has displayed a commendable work ethic in his eight matches so far, linking play behind either Papiss Cisse or Loic Remy, and has received glowing praise from Pardew for his conduct and attitude on the training ground.
On a more negative note, however, he has not really looked like scoring, and with Remy expected to leave at the end of the season, Newcastle can ill afford to shell out a significant sum on a striker who looks incapable of guaranteeing a healthy goal return.
It is a tricky dilemma, but having trained alongside his compatriot at close quarters since the turn of the year, Anita is convinced de Jong has what it takes to be a long-term success on Tyneside.
“I think Luuk wants to stay beyond the end of the season, and I hope that happens,” said Anita. “He is a very good player, and I think he wants to show everyone that.
“He came in January, and right from the start, he has been doing everything he can to prove himself here at Newcastle. I think he is doing that and I think it would be good for everybody if he could stay past the end of his deal on loan.”
De Jong's goalscoring record from the early days of his career is impressive, with Newcastle's recruitment team first becoming aware of his talents as he scored 39 goals in 76 appearances for Eredivisie side FC Twente.
The Magpies made an attempt to sign him in the summer of 2012, but found themselves priced out as the striker made a £12.6m switch to Borussia Monchengladbach instead.
His time in the Bundesliga, which brought six goals in 36 games, was far from happy, and after a falling out with head coach Lucien Favre, he was offered on loan in January.
He made his Newcastle derby in the Tyne-Wear derby with Sunderland, and while he is still to open his goalscoring account in a black-and-white shirt, Anita insists his team-mates have been fully appreciative of his efforts.
“Luuk is working very hard to keep the ball and link up play,” he said. “That is a very important part of the job that he is being asked to perform, and I think he has been doing it well.
“Unfortunately, the balls haven't really fallen for him to have a lot of chances, but I am sure they will come before the end of the season and hopefully he will take them. I think he is settling in well. He is working hard, and that is the most important thing.”
Nevertheless, with Loic Remy already having been ruled out of this weekend's trip to Southampton, Newcastle could do with either de Jong or Papiss Cisse rediscovering their shooting boots as they attempt to prevent their opponents leapfrogging them in the table.
Cisse's weekend match winner against Crystal Palace was the only goal Newcastle have scored in the eight games Remy has not been involved in this season, and there is an all-too-obvious lack of an attacking threat when the Frenchman is not in the side.
“Everybody knows that Loic is very important for us,” said Anita. “He makes scoring goals look very easy, and when you lose a player like that for whatever reason, you are always going to be a bit disappointed.
“But that is not to say that we cannot score goals if Loic is not in the side. I should have scored against Everton myself (towards the end of the second half, when the score was 2-0). It was a fairly easy opportunity to score, and things might have been different if it had gone in.”
* Newcastle have agreed professional contracts with academy trio Adam Armstrong, Freddie Woodman and Lubo Satka. Teenage winger Alex Gilliead has been named in the England under-18 squad that will face Germany next month.