Newcastle boss Eddie Howe is confident there is more to come from his own “Thierry Henry” after seeing record signing Alexander Isak light up the Premier League.
The Magpies’ £60million summer recruit has been in sensational form since returning from a four-month injury lay-off, taking his tally for the season to 10 goals as he battles Callum Wilson for the right to lead the line.
However, it was a stunning assist in Thursday night’s 4-1 win at Everton which drew comparisons with the mercurial Frenchman as he picked up the ball on halfway and skipped past three defenders on a mesmerising run before crossing for Jacob Murphy to tap in at the far post.
Asked if he could see the comparison, head coach Howe said: “Yes, I can, I can see the comparisons there.
“Everyone is different, there are no two players that are the same, but I do think he has some of the characteristics Thierry had.
“He’s certainly got the speed and a similar build and frame. The footwork for the assist was truly remarkable, really, and I think he’s got a lot of potential to improve and get better.
“But it’s been a great start for him here.”
Eyebrows were raised when Newcastle opted to invest so heavily to prise the now 23-year-old away from Real Sociedad in their search for added firepower, but their faith has been richly rewarded.
Isak scored a stunning debut goal at Liverpool in August, but after just three appearances for the club, damaged a thigh muscle on international duty with Sweden and was sidelined until January.
However, his rich vein of form has been key to the Magpies’ surge into Champions League contention – he has scored four times in his last five games – although his intervention at Goodison Park came from the bench as Howe rotated his in-form frontmen.
Asked if Isak has proved an even better player than he had anticipated, he said: “I don’t think you ever know with absolute certainty.
“Anyone who says that would be lying because until you work with a player close-up and you see them every day, I don’t think you ever know what their true capability is.
“But we’ve been very impressed with everything that he’s delivered to this point, not just technically on the pitch, but his character and how he’s handled certain situations. He’s been first class.”
Nevertheless, Isak will have to wait to see if he gets another chance to impress when struggling Southampton visit St James’ Park on Sunday with Howe having rested Wilson for the trip to Brentford earlier this month after he had scored twice at West Ham, and then done the same to the Swede following his double against Tottenham on Sunday.