Speaking to the Chronicle ahead of tonight’s game, Rafa Benitez has admitted that he has kept in touch with ex-NUFC midfielder Moussa Sissoko – explaining why he only has ‘positive memories’ of the midfielder who he found to be a ‘good professional’.
Despite making just 13 Premier League starts all season, the Frenchman could actually be in line for a surprise recall when we play them at Wembley tonight, with the absence of Dembele, Dier and Winks leaving them short in midfield.
Rafa admits that fans may not agree with him on this one, but Benitez has admitted that he was impressed by the Frenchman during the brief time he spent with him towards the back end of the 2015/16 season – a spell where he once gave him the captains armband.
Here’s what he’s had to say about the 28-year today almost two years on from his £30m move to Spurs:
“I think that it is not easy for us to talk about a player that has maybe has not been playing many games, but not playing many games for a very good team,’
“They have lots of very good players so it’s more difficult to play more games. But, for us, when he was here, as a player and a professional during the time that I was here, the relationship was excellent and he was a very good professional for us.
“Maybe the fans will not agree because maybe what they saw from him before that, but from the time I was here he was a good professional.
“My memories about him are only positive memories. I have exchanged some text messages with him since he left. It is not like we talk every day, but we have spoken from time to time.
“But obviously I have a good relationship with him because he was a good professional for us.”
He is remembered for being woefully inconsistent and often talking up his Champions League hopes over a stay at St James’ Park, but its fair to say he enjoyed some of his best football at the club when Benitez took charge.
Interesting to see Rafa has kept in touch and talked up his professionalism as a player – something many of us felt he lacked during his final few years at the club.