We may need to bring in a few quality first-team additions this summer, but to do so, there’ll be several players in and around our squad who will need to be moved on.
There’s a few who have no future but could demand decent fees, however there’s an awful lot of deadwood and wasted wages on our books – and Benitez will be looking to sort that out this summer to free up the wage bill, create space around the club and raise funds to spend on his own side.
Here’s ten I’m quite certain will be made available for sale this summer – with a few absolutely certain to be axed by Benitez:
1. Aleksandar Mitrovic – It’s pretty clear he’s not in Rafa’s plans and it’s even more clear how keen Fulham will be to sign him after his outstanding loan-spell at Craven Cottage. There’ll be no shortage of interest and he’ll be almost certain to seal a permanent move away – providing someone pays in excess of £20m.
2. Chancel Mbemba – He’s not been included in a single match day squad in the league since the turn of the year and it was recently claimed that his ‘head has gone’ in training. A talented player, but someone who Benitez just clearly doesn’t fancy. He’s played so little this season so we won’t be able to demand the sort of price tag his age and potential could attract, but I’m sure there’ll be a few takers for him. Anderlecht and Celtic have already been linked.
3. Matz Sels – Anderlecht, who’ve had him on loan all season, seem very keen to keep him, however I did read recently that we’re looking to recoup the full £5m paid for him two years ago – and it remains to be seen if they’ll be willing to pay that.
4. Jack Colback – Aitor Karanka has talked up his chances of securing a permanent move to Forest after a successful loan spell with the Championship side. Wages might be a slight issue, but he’s got no future at NUFC while Benitez is here and will surely secure a permanent move away this summer to get his career back on track.
5. Achraf Lazaar – His loan spell with Serie A strugglers Benevento was a disaster and ended earlier than expected, so he’s hardy put himself in the shop window. A part of me wonders if we’ll even find a buyer, but he claimed there was interest from the MLS recently, so hopefully something materialises there.
6. Jesus Gamez – It would’ve been easy to forget he’s even on our books, having been injured and out of the picture for so much of his two-year stint at St James’. He’ll be on decent wages and will leave in the next few weeks when his contract expires.
7. Massaido Haidara – Another whose contract runs out this summer and won’t be renewed. He’ll end a 5-year stint at the club, meaning he’s actually one of our longest serving players, but letting him go is the best move for all parties.
8. Henri Saivet – Has been on loan with Turkish side Sivasspor since the turn of the year. Like Colback, he’s not realistically got any future under Rafa and will be another we attempt to flog this summer.
9. Rolando Aarons – His 6-month stint in Italy with Verona was his chance to shine and impress Rafa, but he’ll return to pre-season this summer having done very little during his brief and unsuccessful stint in Serie A. With this in mind, it’s hard to see how he’ll get a chance under Benitez next season. He’s got potential, but I see him being loaned out again or being moved on permanently.
10. Karl Darlow – It looked like Middlesbrough were going to sign him last summer, but the deal was never sanctioned as we failed to bring in a new keeper. With Dubravka set to sign and Benitez looking likely to oversee an overhaul of his goalkeeping options, I see Darlow being sold to get us a bit of cash and give him some much needed first team football. Championship return seems most likely.
Any players here you’d prefer to keep or can’t see Benitez letting go?