As the season draws to a close, we can reflect on what a season it has been for Newcastle United striker Dwight Gayle.
With 22 goals and 2 assists to his name, he has proven to be a standout performer in this season’s Championship.
He was nominated for the EFL player of the season but was pipped to the post by Brighton’s Anthony Knockaert. However, he will think about the bigger picture as he now has another chance to shine in the Premier League.
The 26-year-old from North East London rose to prominence with sides in the lower leagues after failing to make the grade at Arsenal as a teenager.
Gayle joined Stansed FC who were in the Essex Senior League, and he scored a whopping 57 goals in just one season. This led to him being signed by League 2 side Dagenham & Redbridge.
A big step up for him but he did not shy away as he was loaned out to Bishop’s Stortford and Peterborough United (making a move to Peterborough permanent in 2013)during his stay. He made 89 league appearances and scored 49 goals for all three clubs.
This kind of goal scoring record had the bigger teams sniffing around, and it is hard to go unnoticed as a boy who was playing Sunday league football and scoring a multitude of goals.
Crystal Palace were the side who won his signature after they agreed a £4.5 million deal and Gayle was now playing in the Premier League.
He endured a tough time at Palace but was always determined to prove people wrong. He made 74 appearances and scored 25 goals across all competitions. Despite a lot of injuries and never holding down a permanent spot he surprisingly finished top goal scorer for The Eagles in his three seasons with them.
It was then a surprise that Gayle decided to drop back down to the Championship when Premier League sides were interested. However, it made sense. He wanted games, and a chance to prove himself once again and Newcastle offered this platform. Manager Rafa Benitez made sure he got Gayle, and he did as Palace agreed to a £10million deal for him.
The match has been simply perfect. Both have believed in each other, and it is Newcastle who have reaped the rewards. One issue that still concerns fans is Gayle’s injury problems, and this fact could force Benitez’s hand in the summer window.
In January, Gayle missed 18 games due to a hamstring injury and has now been out for the past 3 games; ruling himself out of the penultimate game against Cardiff City. However, he is hoping to be fit for the final game of the season against Barnsley.
The former carpenter (yes, you read correctly) does deserve another shot at the Premier League. Gayle is a natural finisher with the rapid pace that could cause trouble to any defence.
Gayle currently has 15 top-flight goals to his name, and he will be eager to increase that tally in the 2017/18 season.
That eagerness and hunger is what might convince his manager that he deserves a chance against the elite. Dwight has shown he can do it against the bigger teams, just as he did against Liverpool in that exciting 3-3 draw in 2014; grabbing a brace as his side went 3-0 down. Newcastle should keep faith with Gayle as he could be the key to their survival as they return to the Premier League.