Regardless of any potential takeover, Newcastle have a large squad that needs cutting down to free up space for the quality additions Benitez craves this January.
Here’s a look at the players who may depart this winter and the reasons why they could be made available for sale:
The popular Serbian has never really built on his early promise following his move from Anderlecht. It seems Rafa simply doesn’t rate his ability or feels he can trust him, perhaps due to temperament – which was exposed once again in his elbow on Manuel Lanzini earlier in the season. Playing Joselu, Perez and Gayle ahead of him means the writing is on the wall. I expect him to be sold if a decent offer comes in, with NUFC looking to re-coup as much of their initial outlay as they can.
Dwight was clearly offered to clubs during the late hours of the summer window to raise funds and has not looked his usual self during the limited time Rafa has played him this season. Key to us going up last year, it appears the manager doesn’t think he has the ability to be our mains striker, takeover or not. He looked sharper against Bournemouth last week, but expect bids from ambitious Championship teams in January.
Like Mitrovic, arrived with promise and showed signs of quality but isn’t trusted by Benitez. Not featuring in the Championship much, he now only appears to play as an emergency left back and with Dummett returning and Clark ahead of him as reserve CB, his long term future at the club looks bleak.
Colback is currently in exile and brutally relegated to the under 23 squad by Benitez. Playing fairly regularly in the Championship last year, his omission suggests a fall out with the manager. Form wise, he has dipped hugely since a solid first season with the club when he arrived and offers little to the side, expect a tendency to give needless fouls away and collect bookings.
Has been ousted by Elliott as our number 1 and with the prospect of Woodman behind him and Rafa clearly angling still for an experienced keeper, Darlow could head out the door. Linked with Reading and Middlesbrough in the summer, expect similar rumours to surface this time round.
Diame just hasn’t quite delivered at NUFC. An explosive player I enjoyed watching at Wigan in former years, Mo seems to have lost a yard of pace and doesn’t provide enough threat to play off the striker anymore. Merino, Shelvey and Hayden seem to have the deeper roles in the middle of park locked down so Diame could very well depart; Cardiff City have been linked so far.
The forgotten man and a total flop since arriving at the club. The defensive midfielder just hasn’t settled and is likely to be on high wages. He’s restated his desire to fight his way back into Rafa’s plans, and does seem to have a decent attitude, but it’s probably best for all parties that the former Bordeaux man finds himself a new side this winter.
Gamez is a good professional and after finally getting fit, filled in well at LB away at Swansea. I thought he looked excellent and it would signal a run in the side finally for the Spaniard. However, Rafa even then put Mbemba there instead, Manquillo returned and with Dummett fit again, he again looks set to miss out. With his contract running out at the end of the season, an early free transfer back to Spain may be back on the cards.
Rolando Aarons (loan)
He played in the Checkatrade cup at Oldham this week which shows his will to impress Benitez, but also how far his stock as fallen. Aarons has talent, as shown with his great goal against Forest in the league cup, but itness issues have held him back and you get the feeling he is at make or break now at NUFC. Rafa may loan him out to a Championship side to get a good look at him in competitive action.
Freddie Woodman (loan)
Like Aarons, a loan move may be essential for his development. A star of the U-20 world cup, Woodman seems itching to play and rated highly on Tyneside. A temporary home in the Championship or league one could do him the world of good.
Who would you sell to raise funds to invest in the squad? And is there anyone here you’d be determined to keep a hold of?