Isaac Hayden went public in the summer saying he was desperate to leave.
However, Rafa Benitez refused to let the player move on.
With Mike Ashley refusing to support the manager in the transfer market, it put Benitez in a very difficult position.
A player who didn’t want to be at the club any longer but the Spaniard having to accept that if he did sell Isaac Hayden he would then struggle to get anybody to replace him.
Despite selling Mitrovic for £22m, Rafa was only allowed to spend £2m on loan striker Salomon Rondon.
Whilst Mikel Merino was sold for £10m and Rafa restricted to free transfer signing Ki Sung-yeung.
Rafa Benitez was forced to play Isaac Hayden against his old club Arsenal in September, with Shelvey not able to start and Ki Sung-yeung not involved in the matchday squad.
Always thinking one step ahead, the United boss is now using the international break to try and give Isaac Hayden a boost, talking up the midfielder and praising him for his efforts in training, suggesting he could get another chance soon.
As it stands. Rafa is one step away from having to use Hayden if anything happens to either Diame or Ki. Whilst we all hope Jonjo Shelvey is back soon, the England international still wasn’t even training last week.
The manager is very good at getting the best out of his players, even when they don’t figure highly in his first team thoughts.
Rafa Benitez talks about Isaac Hayden being left out early this season because of the issues and emotions surrounding him trying to leave, which is true up to a point. However, the bigger picture reality is that whilst the midfielder did make 26 Premier League appearances last season, with 15 starts, only one of those starts came in 2018 when a different one-off formation and team selection was used at Manchester City.
Clearly Isaac Hayden isn’t part of Rafa’s longer-term plans but he needs to do his best to keep him onboard at the minute. Ideally the manager will be backed in January to bring in players he does want and Hayden can move on then, or failing that next summer at the latest.
Like everybody else, Isaac Hayden played a part in helping the team to see out Saturday’s win against Bournemouth.
If getting his chance in the coming weeks and months, it is also an incentive for the player to do his very best if he hopes to attract another team.
Hayden did well in the promotion season but did little to suggest he was a Premier League first team player last season, only he can change that perception.
“Isaac Hayden is fine.
“At the start of the season it was all a bit confused but he is OK.
“He played against Cardiff and got sent off, which obviously I was not expecting.
“After that, with Diame and Shelvey playing well, now Ki has the Premier League experience too, so it has been difficult for him.
“Because of the balance of the bench, we have decisions to make all the time but he is fine.
“He was an important player for us but, because at the beginning of the season everything was a little bit wrong, he needed to settle down.
“You could see against Cardiff, I’m not blaming him, but he was not focused and I wasn’t expecting it.
“He was sent off because, for me, he was very excited and wanted to impress.
“It was wrong for him but, if he continues to train like he has the last couple of weeks, then he will get chances to play.
“I was speaking to him and he is fine, at the moment he wants to be here…I think so, but we will see in the future.
“It doesn’t matter anyway because he is here (for the time being) and he has to keep going.”