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Opinion

Ghost of Aleksandar Mitrovic continues to haunt Rafa Benitez – 36 starts and 27 goals in 2018

9 months ago
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Aleksandar Mitrovic, two words Rafa Benitez will hear spoken a lot this season.

Selling the striker to another Premier League club was always going to lead to a potential situation…

Four goals in the opening four Fulham matches ensured the chatter started, especially with Newcastle picking up only one point in their opening quartet of matches and the whole team only scoring three goals.

Aleksandar Mitrovic has now got five goals in eight Premier League matches, Newcastle now on two points from 24 and only six PL goals of their own.

As Newcastle fans, we know the problem isn’t so much selling a striker for £22m (rising to £27m).

It is the fact that then Mike Ashley only allowed the manager to spend £2m on a loan deal forward to replace Mitro.

I think that in the circumstances, my only/big criticism of Rafa Benitez is that if he knew Mike Ashley wouldn’t let him buy like for like (spend £22m/£27m+ on a replacement), then surely it was worth giving Mitrovic a go. Especially as with Ashley refusing to allow money to be spent on buying Rondon, Newcastle then had to agree on West Brom getting Dwight Gayle for the year as part of a swap loan deal.

However, when you really drill down into the Aleksandar Mitrovic stats, his goalscoring record is absolutely extraordinary this year.

The Serbian striker has started 36 games (plus two sub appearances) in 2018 and scored 27 goals for club and country.

In fact, Mitro’s first match of 2018 didn’t come until February, so his 27 goals have come in only eight months, interesting to see just how many he will end this calendar year on.

His latest came on Friday night, Serbia winning away at Montenegro, Aleksandar Mitrovic getting both goals.

For the record, Aleksandar Mitrovic in 2018:

18 Championship starts (and 2 as sub) for Fulham with 12 goals

8 Premier League starts for Fulham and 5 goals

10 matches for Serbia and another 10 goals

Did Rafa Benitez make a massive mistake in selling Aleksandar Mitrovic?

Well, history is written by the victors, so it all depends on what unfolds in the rest of the season.

If Fulham stay up and Newcastle don’t, then no matter how unfair it may be, the sale of Mitro will be seen as an error of judgement.
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