There are 15 Newcastle players who look to have their futures in doubt this summer.
Rafa Benitez was forced to make wholesale changes on relegation in 2016, with a number of players insisting on leaving and many others needing to be ditched.
On returning to the Premier League, the United boss clearly wasn’t given the backing to make the ins and outs he had intended to do.
If you remember, Rafa said back in summer 2016 that he needed to build a team to get Newcastle out of the Championship and then another for the Premier League.
After having to do a makeshift job last summer when bringing in bargain buys to try and get through this season, then supplemented with loan deals in January to try and ensure safety. Surely now will be the time when Rafa Benitez starts trying to bottom out his squad and bring in players that he sees as the basis of his squad for years to come.
For that to happen, he obviously needs to move others out.
On that front he clearly didn’t have the freedom to do exactly what he wanted in summer 2017, with not having the backing to bring in who he wanted, at the time Rafa said he couldn’t/wouldn’t then let existing players go – with the risk of no replacements arriving.
Here is my take on the Newcastle players set to definitely/potentially leave this summer:
Definitely on their way:
Massadio Haidara and Jesus Gamez. Both out of contract in June and no chance of being kept on.
Impressing on loan on the way to a permanent exit:
Matz Sels, Aleksandar Mitrovic, Henri Saivet, Achraf Lazaar, Jack Colback and Rolando Aarons are all out on loan at the minute.
None of the six have a first team future at St James Park, in my opinion.
Aleksandar Mitrovic is suggesting he is a striker who can score goals, doing it now in the Championship and surely doing enough to encourage one or two clubs in the Premier League next season to take a punt on him. Rafa Benitez won’t be one of those PL managers prepared to take that chance and with only two years left on his contract, this summer has to be when Mitro moves out. A lot of fans like him but the manager doesn’t have a place for the Serbian in the way he wants his team to function – hopefully these goals on loan will pave the way for significant money being added to Rafa’s transfer funds this summer.
For the other five of them, I think it is a case of the players having to accept a cut in wages if they want regular football elsewhere. It will probably take Newcastle United as well. being prepared to compromise on what they’d ideally like to bank from their departures. Some fans might think we should persevere with Rolando Aarons because of his age but he turns 23 in November and even when fit, has achieved next to nothing – a few moments of promise have gone a long way in terms of making supporters hope for better – but only five league starts at Newcastle so far is no use to anybody.
A tale of two goalkeepers:
Rafa was desperate to bring in a new number one last summer and was thwarted in his attempts, making Martin Dubravka a permanent deal now looks a no-brainer.
Until the Slovakian’s arrival, Rafa gave both Rob Elliot and Karl Darlow chances, but ended up dropping both in the course of those first five or six months. Both of them need to go if they want to play regular football and I think Rafa will be happy to make a fresh start on the goalkeeping front, pointing Sels, Darlow and Elliot towards the exit and Dubravka heading up a new look goalkeeping unit, with potentially another new keeper and Freddie Woodman as back-up.
Depends on how much backing Rafa has:
A number of other players also look at risk. However, this may well depend on just how successful Rafa is, in terms of bringing in his targets.
Isaac Hayden, Ayoze Perez, Chancel Mbemba, Javier Manquillo and Joselu are destined to be squad players at best next season, none of them convincing as the answer in the first team this season as regular starters. They have all contributed something this season but nowhere near enough to be seen as at the front of Rafa’s thoughts in the season ahead.
Maybe it will come down to which of them attract decent offers and I’m guessing at least one or two of them will end up sticking around and acting as squad/fringe players next season.