After committing his future to the club following positive talks with Mike Ashley, Rafa Benitez is a man on a mission to create a squad capable of competing in the Premier League next season.
It is believed the Spaniard will be backed with funs in the region of £70-£80m this summer, but additional funds, should he need them, will be made available through player sales.
Another summer overhaul is to be expected in the coming months, and I would prompt fans to expect the unexpected, with ruthless Rafa likely to axe several of his players this summer.
While there’s several whom we fully expect to leave (Sels, Hanley, Lazaar etc.), here are 5 players I believe COULD be sold this summer.
The Serbian striker has not only been handed little game time in the Championship last season, but has often failed to deliver when given his chance, scoring just 4 times in the league.
Mitrovic remains a fan favourite and is still only 22, but there is only so much patience Benitez can have with a £10m rated striker who’s failing to score goals.
Rafa wants two ‘proven’ strikers this summer according to reports. With this in mind, should a sizeable offer arrive for the Serb this summer it may just be accepted?
Despite a promising end to the season, Benitez had predominately shown a real lack of faith in the Congolese centre-back last season.
His end of season heroics will have helped his cause, but it has been well documented that Mbemba’s poor English and inability to follow instructions had been frustrating the Spaniard (hence his lengthy absence from the side last season)
His pace and athleticism make him well equipped to deal with the demands of the Premier League, but with Benitez eyeing defensive reinforcements this summer, Mbemba may yet make way.
Diame arrived with high hopes last summer, but has endured a really disappointing first season at the club.
He’s looked a shadow of his former self, with several fans visibly losing their patience with the midfielder.
He turns 30 next month and appears to be on the decline. Being a fan of his during his Wigan and West Ham days, I’m hoping he resurrects his Newcastle United career next season, but would not be surprised if the club cashed in on him this summer.
The Spaniard enjoyed his best game of the season on the final day against Barnsley earlier this month. It was a sparkling display and a reminder of what he’s capable of, but cannot mask what has been an underwhelming campaign for Ayoze.
He impressed me in his early days, showing real Premier League potential, however his development has taken a hit in recent seasons.
The number 10 role was a huge problem last season and must be addressed this summer, raising questions as to where Perez may fit into next season’s side.
Benitez is clearly a fan of the 23-year-old and would be reluctant to let him go, but I wouldn’t rule it out if a big offer arrived.
Despite a promising season between the sticks last season, Darlow was dropped for the returning Rob Elliot in the closing games.
I don’t expect the 26 year-old stopper to be sold this summer, but his exit is quite possible.
Rob Elliot appears to be Benitez’s most trusted goalkeeper, with the returning Tim Krul and Freddie Woodman being two Rafa will also have to consider this summer.
Time will tell over pre-season, but Darlow may consider his options should he slip further down the pecking order.