When Federico Fernandez arrived only hours before the summer transfer deadline, Newcastle fans were a bit bemused.
Yes Florian Lejeune was injured but with Jamaal Lascelles, Ciaran Clark and new signing Swiss international Fabian Schar all still available, another centre-back hardly seemed the priority considering the glaring lack of strength in other areas of the squad.
Paying £6m and Premier League level wages for a 29 year old on only a two year contract didn’t exactly sound like a typical Mike Ashley approved signing either.
With his limited budget Rafa knew what he had to do and Lejeune’s absence meant he knew who to go for.
An interesting report has now picked out the former Swansea centre-back.
The excellent Football365 have named the (their) top 10 Premier League players outside the ‘top five’, amusingly meaning that Man Utd players qualify for this non-big five club top 10, if good enough.
Some interesting choices in their selection but even more interesting is what they have said in their write-up for Federico Fernandez.
They make the point that Rafa Benitez has managed 12 different clubs and no player has played for him at more than two of those clubs.
Indeed only a very small handful of them have played at two different clubs for Rafa,making the point that once he leaves a club the Spaniard isn’t one of those who goes back and tries to unsettle and steal away players from clubs where he has managed.
Federico Fernandez has now joined that select band of players who have played for Rafa Benitez at two different clubs, the pair having been at Napoli together where they won the Coppa Italia.
In his 10 Premier League games so far, Newcastle have only conceded 12 goals and nine of them came against Man City, Man Utd, Arsenal and Chelsea, in the other six games against the ‘lesser’ clubs Newcastle have only conceded three goals with Federico Fernandez in the team.
Already very popular with the Newcastle fans, the former Argentine international is helping to give Rafa Benitez a big dilemma once Lascelles and then Lejeune are available.
There again, Rafa knew exactly what he was buying when he brought in his former Napoli defender.
Top ten Premier League players outside the Big Five as chosen by the excellent Football365:
‘For a manager who has coached 12 different teams over a 25-year period, Rafael Benitez is not a particular believer in favourites.
‘No-one has played under the Spaniard for more than two different clubs.
‘Every time Benitez has moved house, he tends to throw out his old toys and simply invest in new ones.
‘Only a lucky few names are written down in his little black book.
‘He managed Alvaro Arbeloa at Liverpool and Real Madrid, took charge of Ruben Baraja at Real Valladolid and Valencia, and watched over Gordan Pandev at both Inter Milan and Napoli.
‘Federico Fernandez is the only Newcastle player Rafa Benitez has previously managed.’
The other nine Football365 selections:
Glenn Murray (Brighton)
Ben Chilwell (Leicester)
Aaron Wan-Bissaka (Crystal Palace)
Etienne Capoue (Watford)
Ryan Fraser (Bournemouth)
Callum Wilson (Bournemouth)
Anthony Martial (Man Utd)
Gylfi Sigurdsson (Everton)