We are now coming up to three seasons of Aleksandar Mitrovic at Newcastle United.
Arriving as a 20 year old in Summer 2015 to cure Newcastle’s goalscoring problems and ensure there would be no more relegation worries…
Things haven’t exactly worked out as we had all hoped.
Such a reliance on buying young players from weak overseas leagues to give an instant answer, proved disastrous.
Relegation was the outcome, with Florian Thauvin moving back to France after only three Premier League starts, Wijnaldum jumping ship due to relegation, whilst Chancel Mbemba’s Newcastle career has kind of followed Mitro’s. Signs of promise but ultimately Rafa Benitez doesn’t want him/them now.
Aleksandar Mitrovic started 22 Premier League matches (plus 12 as sub) in his first season after joining for £14m, scoring 9 PL goals.
Then only 11 Championship starts (14 as sub) last season, scoring 4 league goals.
This season not a single Premier League start (6 as a sub – 89 minutes in total) and a solitary PL goal against West Ham.
I think anybody would/should get the message that Mitro has no future at Newcastle, certainly whilst Rafa Benitez is Manager.
However, an interesting revelation from the Chronicle, who say that Rafa Benitez wanted to sell Aleksandar Mitrovic in the January 2017 transfer window but Mike Ashley blocked it.
They report that Ashley ‘reneged on the understanding’ that Rafa Benitez had full control of transfers in and out. That January 2017 window seeing nobody bought, or sold, thanks to the owner’s interference.
In the Summer (2017) transfer window, it was widely circulated in the media, that Newcastle were keen to sell Mitrovic and that they were using agents to try and sell him, offering the striker to French and Turkish clubs, amongst others, with a price tag of at least £14m to get the money back that was paid for him.
Nothing happened and with no Premier League starts this season, we got to the January 2018 window.
Once again it was reported Newcastle were willing to sell but wanted at least £15m/£16m, which was a bit optimistic with the lack of games in the past 18 months.
Brighton were said to have bid but their offer wasn’t even up to the £10m mark
As it is, no Premier League club but Brighton were prepared to pay for him – and even they would not go beyond £10million. The idea of selling/loaning to a relegation rival was also dismissed by Rafa Benitez, though it would have been interesting to see what Mike Ashley would have done if any club had offered what he wanted.
Of course, after a loan to Anderlecht fell through at the last minute, Aleksandar Mitrovic ended up at Fulham for the rest of this season.
After finding his feet he is hitting form and the back of the net in the Championship, with now five goals in seven appearances.
This will have encouraged Rafa Benitez that he may at last be able to shift the unwanted striker in the summer and add the transfer fee to his own funds to bring in players he wants.
There is no permanent price agreed with Fulham at the end of the loan but of course with him back playing and scoring goals he suddenly becomes a potential asset for many clubs.
However…the Chronicle say that their understanding is that Mike Ashley has now raised the Mitrovic asking price to £20m.
It is almost as though Ashley is trying to prove a point that it was right to buy the Serbian striker and making it impossible for Rafa Benitez to sell him, so he can wheel and deal and bring in his own players.
Scoring a few goals in the Championship won’t suddenly make Mitrovic a £20m player and common sense has to come into it this summer, the club’s owner has to allow Rafa Benitez to mould a team that he wants.