The news that Rafa Benitez had signed a new contract and agreed to stay on as manager has given Newcastle something I cannot recall any other relegated club having going into a pre-season…momentum. Genuine and positive momentum has seen Newcastle’s relegation transformed from bitter vitriol to new beginnings. Last week I named five senior players who should leave; it could have been eight, nine or ten in all honesty after a shocking season. But Newcastle do have a number of younger players (and by that I mean under 23) who have potential. And a season in The Championship could be a catalyst for several young magpies to make their mark on the first team; a chance they probably would not have had in the top tier. They also have the guidance of a top class manager who will bed them in properly to give them the best possible chance to grow.
Here’s who could make an impression next season
The young Swiss defender seemed to be heading out of Newcastle at the end of the season as his contract appeared to be coming to an end. The Chronicle reported though that Newcastle had activated an extension clause to keep him at United for a further two years. They also suggested Mbabu may be sent out on loan but as Daryl Janmaat looks likely to leave this window and Anita possibly taking Tiote’s place in midfield, Mbabu could see significant game time at Newcastle.
Mbabu is strong, quick and committed, able to play at either full back and put in a memorable performance during Newcastle’s 2-2 draw with Chelsea this season. Signed as a player with great potential back in 2013 Mbabu struggled for fitness following his encouraging breakthrough but a season in The Championship could provide him with an ideal education. Just as Newcastle’s season in the second tier back in 2009-10 developed Jose Enrique, Mbabu could come on leaps and bounds if given a role at full back next term.
There are many variables at work here though. Janmaat is expected to leave but he may not. The same can said for Tiote. Vernon Anita could be installed as first team right back after performing so well for Rafa but he could also leave following his recent inclusions in the Dutch national side. If Mbabu is given an opportunity by Benitez though, he could be one to watch.