According to an ‘exclusive’ on Sunday morning, West Ham and Crystal Palace are both ‘chasing’ Aleksandar Mitrovic.

There is a definite split in opinion on the striker amongst Newcastle fans and just to give you a clue as to where I stand, if they are chasing our Serbian maverick they won’t have much trouble catching up with him.

However, what I or you think is irrelevant, it is (thankfully) Rafa Benitez that controls who comes in and who goes out.

The Star exclusive (see below) reckons that Palace and West Ham are desperate to add goals in January and if they can’t get Liverpool to release Daniel Sturridge they will fight it out over Aleksandar Mitrovic.

Obviously we are approaching the real silly season on transfer stories with January now less than four weeks away BUT just for a moment, let’s take it that West Ham, Crystal Palace, or anybody else is seriously interested in Mitrovic.

Well Rafa Benitez would snap their hands off.

Surely the Newcastle Manager couldn’t have made it more clear that he doesn’t rate the number 45.

Remember this is Newcastle’s most expensive signing in the squad, the best paid player on our books…and he pretty much never gets a game.

When Rafa came in last season, he played Mitrovic against Leicester and Sunderland, then despite a late equaliser (after a really poor performance), the Serbian was dropped against Norwich.

With Newcastle in a losing position at the Canaries, Rafa had nothing to lose and threw Mitrovic on, with the striker scoring twice in an eventual 3-2 defeat. Was then recalled against Southampton, another abject display and we didn’t see him in the relegation run-in again.

The very fact that the rapidly fading and disinterested Papiss Cisse was preferred in those crucial five relegation deciders, tells you all. Mitrovic only came back for the pointless Spurs match, where he scored a very good goal before a ridiculous challenge saw him start this season with a four game ban.

This time around, Mitrovic had to wait until Rafa made major changes when faced with three games in a well, scoring in a very good team performance against QPR (6-0) but then not recalled until seven weeks later at Preston when Dwight Gayle was injured.

Keeping his place for the narrow 2-1 win over Cardiff, Mitrovic was then again dropped until Rafa gambled big time against Blackburn, making six changes which included keeping Gayle for the Hull Cup match and the Forest game.

Mitrovic might make it elsewhere but it won’t be at Newcastle United under Rafa Benitez.

Talk of Newcastle recouping the near £15m they paid for Mitrovic is obviously ridiculous and I reckon if Rafa was offered anything near half that he would be over the moon, to clear out the club’s biggest wage earner who he doesn’t fancy, making room for a player who he thinks could/would be a good fit to play with Dwight Gayle.

Here’s hoping.

The Star ‘Exclusive’ Sunday 4 December 2017

‘EXCLUSIVE: West Ham and Crystal Palace plot January raid for Newcastle striker

WEST HAM and Crystal Palace are both chasing Newcastle hitman Aleksandar Mitrovic.

The Serbia striker, 22, has scored five times this season for the Championship side but is still unable to command a regular place at St James’ Park.

That has alerted Premier League strugglers Palace and West Ham, who are both desperate to boost their firepower going into the second half of the season.

Unsettled Liverpool ace Daniel Sturridge is the first choice for the London rivals but Anfield boss Jurgen Klopp is adamant the England international will not be leaving in the January window.

Toon chief Rafa Benitez feels the same way about losing Mitrovic but with Dwight Gayle usually ahead in Benitez’s pecking order, any offer matching the £14.5million Mitrovic cost would be tempting.’