If you had any doubts as to where Aleksandar Mitrovic stands at Newcastle United, it was made very clear on Wednesday night.
After only one point from seven matches Rafa Benitez once again made sweeping changes but rather than getting his first Premier League start of the season, Mitrovic found himself not even on the bench.
With only 89 minutes of Premier League football this season and ignored for even most of the Championship season, the Serbian forward definitely needs a new club in January.
Reports from Italy on Thursday morning claim that Serie A could be his next port of call.
Tuttosport claim that Torino want Aleksandar Mitrovic and Afriyie Acquah is being offered as part of a swap deal, with Newcastle also said to want the deal to happen.
In the summer it was repeatedly reported that the defensive midfielder was set to join Newcastle United and the player himself (see below) even said he was ‘90%’ certain to be moving to the Premier League, only then to later bizarrely claim he was ‘100%’ committed to Torino.
Whatever was said/happened in the summer, Afriyie Acquah is in a similar position to Mitrovic, both of them seeing more football for their country than their respective clubs.
Acquah is an international teammate of Christian Atsu with Ghana and has only started two Serie A games this season, though last season he only started 13 league matches, so not exactly a regular anyway.
Torino are currently ninth in Serie A and looking to add another striker, it would be a major surprise if they weren’t happy to let Afriyie Acquah go if there is genuine interest in a swap deal for Mitrovic.
As for Newcastle United, the latest defeat to Everton showed weaknesses all over the pitch, and whatever funds Rafa Benitez does have, will need to be used wisely.
Even if a takeover quickly progresses and funds are made available by Amanda Staveley’s bidders in January, as was reported on Wednesday, it will still only be fairly limited funds at today’s prices and any unwanted players who can be moved out of St James Park will be a bonus, both in saved wages and potential transfer/loan fees.
The transfer window opens in only 18 days time and you would imagine Rafa Benitez will be desperate to make some quick deals.
The Mag – 20 June 2017:
Three weeks ago, an exclusive reported that Newcastle United were trying to sign Afriyie Acquah.
Then yesterday (Monday 19 June), quotes from an interview with the 25 year old Torino defensive midfielder made clear a deal to a Premier League club was ‘90% complete’ and that it has always ‘been a dream of mine to play in England’.
To further tantalise Newcastle fans, the player started to follow the official Newcastle United account on Twitter, the only English club he is now following on social media.
Newcastle supporters find the transfer window frustrating/confusing enough, without then the latest update from the player himself on Tuesday morning.
Afriyie Acquah seems to think he has clarified things but…
Afriyie Acquah on Twitter 20 June 2017:
“Reports that I claimed a ‘90% done deal’ to Newcastle United completely FALSE.
“100% committed to Torino FC. See video.”
The video he points to, is the one below. This is the video interview where the quotes are taken from, when he says a move to the Premier League is ‘90% complete’.
Yes it doesn’t specifically name Newcastle United, as we pointed out yesterday (see below), but ‘100% committed to Torino’…work that one out!!!
The Mag – 19 June 2017:
Three weeks ago (see below) an exclusive claimed that both Newcastle and Juventus were chasing the signature of Afriyie Acquah.
The 25 year old defensive midfielder currently plays for Torino but FootballMadeInGhana.com said he was likely to move on.
Now the same media source has spoken to the player, with Afriyie Acquah stating that he is in negotiations with a Premier League club and that he has always dreamed of playing in England.
Having a summer break on holiday, the Ghanaian international says that talks are ongoing but that the deal with an unnamed English club is 90% completed, with an announcement to be made once finalised.
Whether there is any substance and these two exclusives (Newcastle chasing Acquah/deal 90% done with a Premier League club) marry up, remains to be seen.
Afriyie Acquah talking to FootballMadeInGhana.com:
“Yes, it is very likely I will be moving to England.
“It is 90% complete but we are still talking, once we finish I am sure an announcement will be made.
“It has been a dream of mine to play in England and I am very close to achieving this.”
The Mag – 30 May 2017:
An exclusive has claimed that Newcastle want to sign Afriyie Acquah.
The 25 year old defensive midfielder currently plays for Torino, who finished ninth in Serie A this past season.
The player having also played for Palermo, Parma and Sampdoria in the Italian top tier, with in amongst that a move to Hoffenheim in the Bundesliga not working out, with Afriyie Acquah not playing a single game at the German club.
Acquah featured in 29 of Torino’s 38 Serie A matches last season but only 20 this time around, starting 13 league matches but starting on the bench 17 times.
Despite this, Ghana Soccer Net claim in an exclusive that both Newcastle and Juventus are interesting in signing the defensive midfielder this summer.
A move to Juventus looks a little unlikely, with the Italian champions having Champions League cash to spend on targeting major signings, plus of course they can offer CL football, as well as potentially the chance to play for the reigning Champions League holders – if they beat Real Madrid. Another complication, even if Juventus were interested, is that it would mean Torino selling a player to their city rivals.
If there is substance in the story, the fact Afriyie Acquah isn’t a guaranteed first team regular at Torino doesn’t necessarily mean he couldn’t do a job for Newcastle in the Premier League.
The player sounds very similar to Cheick Tiote and the Ivory Coast international was a big hit in his first few years on Tyneside, even though he only started 10 league matches for FC Twente in the season before he joined Newcastle.
Afriyie Acquah is an international teammate of Christian Atsu and unlike the winger, was named in the latest Ghana Squad.
They have an African Cup of Nations qualifier against Ethiopia is on 11 June, with then friendlies against Mexico on 28 June and USA on 1 July – that last game only two days before Newcastle begin pre-season training.
There does appear to be a bit of a Ghanaian theme running through a number of transfer rumours surrounding Newcastle, with another international teammate of Atsu’s, Frank Acheampong, linked with NUFC at the weekend. He is a winger who currently plays for Anderlecht and is a former teammate of Mbemba and Mitrovic.
The reports claim that the midfielder has an £8 million valuation, which of course would make him easily affordable for Newcastle, with wages surely not a problem either if Rafa Benitez did make a move.