Rafa Benitez has met up with Manchester City Director of Football, Txiki Begiristain, to discuss two possible summer transfers, according to reports this morning.
In an ideal world, the Newcastle boss was always going to want a number of players with Premier League experience to help give a firm base for a return to the top tier.
The two players in question are Brazilian midfielder Fernando and Eliaquim Mangala, the French defender.
The report in The Mail says that the United boss is interested in a number of players Manchester City might make available this summer – but that these initial talks have concerned Mangala and Fernando.
As always, Manchester City have more players than they know what to do with and both these alleged Newcastle targets were signed in summer 2014 well before Pep Guardiola took over.
French international Mangala is now 26 and has spent this season on loan at Valencia where he has made 28 La Liga starts so far, the Spanish side said to be not interested in triggering the option to make the move permanent.
With no Champions League football next season and the resulting finances, little surprise that the La Liga team (currently 13th) aren’t buying Mangala.
He cost around £35m three years ago when arriving from Porto and whilst any fee would be well below that figure, it would still be a massive amount for a Spanish club relying on the relatively meagre TV deal for most La Liga clubs.
Mangala made 47 Premier League starts in his first two years at Man City and will be hoping to make a return to the French national squad ahead of the World Cup in Russia. He was a squad member at the 2016 Euro Finals making one sub appearance in the 5-2 win over Iceland but has only featured on the bench for France once (November 2016) since then.
As for Fernando, he turns 30 in July and is very much on the sidelines at the Etihad, starting only five Premier League games this season and none since December.
With only three sub appearances in the league this calendar year, there is clearly no future for the Brazilian, as Guardiola is sure to make further massive investment in the squad this summer, as they face a struggle to even qualify for the Champions League this season.
Making 22 Premier League starts in his first season at Manchester City and then 17 last year, his influence has faded with time at the club.
He also was signed from Porto in summer 2014 but for a much lower £12m fee, almost a snip where Man City are concerned.
With only four Premier League goals in his three seasons in the Premier League, any potential interest in Fernando wouldn’t be as a creator/scorer of goals – more as possibly playing alongside the likes of Jonjo Shelvey.
As always, sorting out what is credible in these media reports is always a tricky one, especially as the profile of many reported Newcastle United targets is going to be players at Premier League clubs who are currently struggling for regular football.