Newcastle United announced their retained list on Friday and much has been said about Vurnon Anita and Yoan Gouffran.

Both players see long-term contracts run out at the end of June and there had been much speculation as to what would happen to the pair.

Yesterday saw confirmation that it was thank you but goodbye to Vurnon Anita, whilst it was revealed that talks were ongoing with Yoan Gouffran as to a new deal.

All the indications being that United were prepared to give the former Bordeaux player a new contract but that it would be only short-term, almost certainly just one year.

Rafa Benítez having this to say:

“I wish to give sincere thanks to all those players from the first team and at under-23 level who we have made the difficult decision to release this summer.

“In particular to Vurnon Anita, who has served Newcastle United magnificently over the last five years. Vurnon is an outstanding team-player, always working for the team and willing to step into whatever position he was needed to fill. He is an excellent professional and I thank him for every contribution he has made over the years, particularly in my time as manager.

“Yoan Gouffran has been an equally committed and dedicated team-player for this club, as well as a hugely popular member of the squad.

“I can confirm we are in early stage discussions now with Yoan’s agent to see if there might be a solution that could work for both the player and the club which may see Yoan extend his service to Newcastle United, but we will know more in the coming days.”

Whilst Rafa (quite rightly) will always say the right things in public, it would surely have been a very very backward step if Vurnon Anita had been given an extension.

He comes over as a canny lad and has tried his best but had never ever ever looked like a Premier League player.

In five years at the club, Vurnon Anita had a handful of ok games in the centre of midfield and a few decent ones at right-back late in the 2015/16 season but apart from that, has looked way below the standard needed.

In the four Premier League seasons whilst the Dutchman has been at the club, Newcastle were relegated in 2015/16 (Anita played in 28 of the 38 PL games), whilst in both 2012/13 (reached safety only when winning second last game of the season) and 2014/15 (safety achieved on very last day of season) the club were very nearly relegated as well.

This isn’t to blame Vurnon Anita solely for the relegation and two near misses in four seasons, instead it is just to say to those who have said it is a massive mistake not to give him another contract – Newcastle have struggled in recent years because Anita and others weren’t good enough for the Premier League.

In four years of Premier League football at Newcastle, playing most of the games in midfield, Anita managed only three goals and four assists, very very poor for a player who doesn’t offer anything exceptional in any other area of his game.

As for Yoan Gouffran, Newcastle fans were once again divided, some thinking he was worth a short-term deal as cover, others thinking it a total waste of time.

My view is that he is exactly the same level as Vurnon Anita, did an ok job in the second tier but nowhere near good enough for the Premier League.

In his last two Premier League campaigns, Yoan Gouffran has managed only two goals and one assist – and that is playing as a winger/attacking midfielder.

The willingness to offer even a one year deal to the Frenchman does raise concerns for many at just how much money Rafa Benitez has to play with, as surely wanting to give somebody a new deal must mean that you foresee them as at least likely to be in your 18 man matchday squad.

Having a player in the attacking part of your team who doesn’t score or create goals, isn’t a positive.

Newcastle need far more from that left hand side this coming season when attacking and let’s hope that as well as Gouffran potentially getting a squad role on a short-term basis, Rafa Benitez has also got plans on how his intended first choice players can give as much as the likes of the Yedlin/Ritchie partnership next season.

The bottom line is that there is no room for sentiment and Newcastle were repeatedly relegation contenders in recent years because so many players were not good enough, as well as the likes of Sissoko who couldn’t be bothered most of the time.

Moving forward Newcastle need players who can give both quality and effort, anything less and you run the risk of a relegation fight.

In Rafa we trust!

(All contributions from Newcastle fans welcome, send articles (as well as ideas/suggestions) to [email protected])

Rafa Personalised Gifts  - shop.themag.co.uk


  • Damon Horner

    Because we don’t have a bottomless pit of transfers money to replace them with PL quality and stability could be important. Their level isn’t tremendous but it could be useful for 1-2 seasons.

    • Peter Robson

      Agree with your point and we´d look a bit daft if we started offloading willy nilly without at least adequate (or better) cover for those positions.
      The positions where Anita has played for us can easily be covered, and although I like the player, letting him go is the right decision.

  • mactoon

    It’s a squad game and while they need replacing with better players it would be dangerous to just let players go without getting replacements. It’s a balancing act

  • MichaelMaximusMoose

    the likes of Gouffran & Anita were nowhere near the standard required, the odd good game here & there is no good in the premiership. they both need to leave

  • goggsy

    It won’t be hard to get a better footballer than either of these two. Unfortunately the premier league isn’t all about the best players it’s about fittnes,attitudes,desire to do well for the club that’s paying you,willingness to sacrifice yourself for the good of the team and believing in the team ethic and how the manager wants to employ it.

    That’s harder to find than ability alone,there’s sentiment from some understandably for these players because they tick boxes regardless of Wether they played in a relegated team.

    The headline is a little misleading. Look at the last team that got us relegated and them got us back up and then held their own and more in the premier league. Good footballers all? Certainly not. Even the players we signed for the championship like Simpson and Williamson although admittedly weren’t technically good footballers they were good enough to stabilise and more in the premier league. We replaced some of these players with better footballers who eventually got us relegated.