Sammy Ameobi -- future star or also-ran?

Posted by Marc Duffy

Ian MacNicol/Getty ImagesSammy Ameobi's opportunities have been limited this term.

If I was to ask you what you think of Sammy Ameobi as a footballer, there's a good chance that you would tell me he's an ineffective player who is not cut out for the Premier League.

I say that because I've asked the question a lot recently; friends in bars, family members, people I go to the game with and the wonderful world of Twitter. I reckon that about 75% of you don't hold much hope of Ameobi becoming a regular and important Newcastle United player.

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There are times when I can see why you would think like that. He's a raw talent who hasn't sharpened many of his skills since he first took to the field for the first team in the Premier League at Stamford Bridge back in May 2011.

He is a raw talent, but he IS a talent.

Last season when Ameobi was playing in the Europa League, Chris Waddle, a man who knows a bit about being a winger, asked the Newcastle fans for a bit of extra patience towards Ameobi -- he pointed out that "wingers need longer to develop as their natural instinct is to keep running with the ball" -- very true in the case of Ameobi junior.

Back in 2011 his manager Alan Pardew commented that "his ability is frightening"

Despite all of this, Ameobi has so far only started two Premier League games and made 19 appearances off the bench. What is holding him back? Are the coaching standards at the club good enough to help a young player break through from the academy? Very few have made that progression in recent years. Or is he just not good enough?

He demonstrated occasional flashes of brilliance in his Europa appearances and was very good against Morecambe in this season's Capital One Cup tie. His introduction versus West Ham a few weeks ago almost won the game for Newcastle -- all positive signs.

Perhaps it is the family name that is holding him back and souring supporters' opinions? Say 'Ameobi' to Newcastle fans and thousands of them would instantly think of an apparently half-motivated player jogging up and down a football pitch scoring one goal every blue moon. Sammy is not his brother -- he is far more lively and undoubtedly has more talent (Shola is the first to admit that).

Ameobi has five England Under-21 Caps (and two Nigeria Under-20 Caps) to his name now with two of them coming in this past week. He was unlucky not to pick up an assist when he came on against Moldova -- his excellent, chipped through ball should have been converted by Saido Berahino but the West Brom striker missed the ball.

With his positive domestic showings and England youth involvement, could this be his breakthrough season? Perhaps his loan spell at Middlesbrough last season has helped to push him to that next level?

If this is the year that we see Ameobi rise to the top, it could not come at a better time. Newcastle have been desperate for a wide option for ages -- they apparently enquired about Blackpool's Tom Ince but were put off by the £10m price tag. That incredible price tag shows how thin on the ground young English players are and Newcastle could already have one in their ranks. And Ameobi has to be a better option than shoe-horning Sylvain Marveaux or Moussa Sissoko into unfamiliar winger roles.

He still has work to do and a heck of a lot to learn. He could also do with beefing out that wiry 6 foot 3 frame of his, but give him a chance, show some patience and let's see how he develops.

Twitter: @MarcSDuffy


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