Unique Mikeltadze becoming Newcastle's most important attacking weapon
The Newcastle Jets have potentially unearthed a gem in Beka Mikeltadze.
The versatile number nine has started the season on fire, and his playing style has raised eyebrows along the way.
The Georgian international has five goal involvements in five games - four goals and one assist - with an average match rating of 7.91 per game, as per FotMob.
He also currently leads The A-League Men Golden Boot race.
Mikeltadze's heat map so far this season. (SofaScore)
It is evident within the heat map above that Mikeltadze enjoys and flourishes in areas other than at the top-end of the park and is capable of being a playmaker and a goal-scoring threat.
It's not Mikeltadze's goal-scoring threat that has put fans on notice.
He constantly drops into midfield, wide areas, and between the lines to receive the ball.
In the F3 Derby, Mikeltadze created that much space with his movement that he should have turned on the ball and driven at the Mariners defence more often.
Mikeltadze will often be spotted in the midfield area, a tactic that Jets head coach Arthur Papas has excellently imprinted.
The 23-year-old has over 86% pass accuracy per game, with 86% accuracy in his half.
Not only are his accuracy stats for passing highly impressive for a striker, but he also averages just under two key passes per game.
Mikeltadze celebrates one of two goals in the 4-0 rout of Wellington recently. (Katherine Times)
Mikeltadze is scoring at a rate of a goal every 112 minutes.
With two shots per game, at least one of those is finding the back of the net, leaving most A-League Men and Newcastle's fans extremely impressed.
The confidence he showed to demand to take the free-kick in their recent defeat to Macarthur and bury it signals a man at the top of his game right now.
He is also one of the most fouled players in the league at an average of 3.6 times per game.
This statistic highlights a clear sign of concern amongst defenders of Mikeltadze's excellent technical foundation and ability to drag defenders into midfield with movements towards the ball.
Papas did send a warning shot early on to other sides about Mikeltadze's ability to impact games beyond goal-scoring.
"I'm proud of Beka and his mentality to overcome some pretty difficult weeks," he told Channel 7 following Newcastle's 4-0 rout of Wellington recently.
"He's been playing well every week, and he got his goals tonight, but he does more than just score goals.
"Defensively, he sets up how we want to press and plays well in tight areas, and hopefully, the goals will give him confidence as to how good he can be in this league.
"He understands space extremely well, and he can give you a threat behind."
Mikeltadze joined Newcastle in the off-season after stints in Georgia, Cyprus, Russia, and Greece. (AAP)
Perhaps the most effective acquisition of the off-season so far is Mikeltadze.
Newcastle has created a high volume of chances against multiple sides whilst playing a more progressive style of football.
Papas' approach will benefit him even more as his confidence grows.
It is more likely that this approach represents personal success as well.
Newcastle's style often allows Mikeltadze and his entourage of pacy wingers to exploit large spaces behind the opponent's defence.
This tactic was evident in the brace Mikeltadze scored against the Phoenix.
Newcastle took advantage of Wellington's inability to cope with their sheer speed, with quick balls in behind to Valentino Yuel and Olivier Boumal causing issues for the Phoenix defence and leading to Mikeltadze's first A-League Men double.
Hopefully, Newcastle and Papas continue to employ this style of football, as it suits Mikeltadze.
More importantly, it could also provide them with a healthy goal tally and a lift that they desperately need after seasons in the abyss.