Rafa Benitez has confirmed that an agreement has at last been reached on Aleksandar Mitrovic leaving Newcastle United.
The striker joining Fulham and Rafa wishing him all the best: ‘Hopefully he can score a lot of goals but not against us.’
Having given the Serbian striker only 11 starts in the Championship and none at all last season in the Premier League, it was obvious Mitro had no future at the club, at least whilst Rafa is still here.
Last summer saw Mike Ashley price the striker out of a move, demanding a minimum of £16m.
Hitting lucky with a decent loan spell at Fulham and an ok World Cup with Serbia, despite only converting one of 14 chances that came his way, Ashley has got lucky with Fulham reported to have agreed to pay £22m. Sky Sports claiming the eventual fee could be £27m if the player hits certain targets at his new club.
However, of more immediate interest for Rafa Benitez is the relationship between transfers in and out this summer.
The manager has stated he had to sell players before he could buy, with most fans and Rafa Benitez seemingly, expecting that any sale prices will be available to spend.
Not an ideal situation whatsoever, considering how much net spending is going on at other clubs, on top of any money generated from sales.
At the moment, the NUFC situation now looks to be £42m from sales (Mitro £22m, Mbemba £6m, Merino £10m, Sels £4m) and £7m so far going out on buys (Dubravka £4m, £3m Schar).
A profit so far of £35m, even once Muto’s deal goes through for £9.5m, that still means Rafa Benitez is over £25m up on transfers at the minute.
No wonder the Newcastle manager declares ‘I don’t control the accounts but if you do the maths we have enough money (to bring in another striker).’
With the shock news of Lejeune’s injury, the manager now needs another central defender as well, with obviously other positions as well needing strengthening, as Rafa has a squad with next to no depth.
What a position to be put in, Rafa Benitez needing to make such difficult/impossible decisions, when even a modest transfer budget of £30m or so (on top of sales) could have given the manager the freedom to at least be able to do a slightly ambition level of wheeling and dealing.
With indications that Dwight Gayle could also go, that would add at least £10m-£15m surely, meaning potentially £40m or so in credit on transfers, even after the Muto deal.
Time is of the essence with 11 days to go until transfer deadline, the obstacles that have been put in Rafa’s way by Mike Ashley making the manager’s job as difficult as possible this summer.
“I wish Aleksandar Mitrovic all the best, I think it (transfer to Fulham) is done.
“I think he has an agreement with Fulham and I wish him all the best.
“Hopefully he can score a lot of goals but not against us.
“But it’s something we were expecting and it’s now a case of looking to see if we can bring someone else to replace him.
“We are working and trying to bring in new players to bring in new competition.
“It means we can bring in another striker and we can be stronger.
“We did this business with Muto because we needed to do something more (as well as another new striker)).
“I don’t control the accounts but if you do the maths we have enough money (to bring in another striker).
“Muto is done but it’s just waiting for the work permit.
“He played in the World Cup in a good team and he has done well in the Bundesliga, so we are talking about a striker that is doing well in the last few years at international level.
“He has quality and can bring us energy and good movement, plus the intensity you need. I don’t see any problem with him.”