One sentence I never understand from some football fans – ‘We don’t want to sign him, he was part of a team that got relegated!’.
I never buy that logic (would you have said no to Stoke’s Shaqiri last summer?), and as a result, I’m sure there’ll be one or two players from relegated sides Fulham and Huddersfield that Rafa would happily take this summer (presuming he stays on at St James’ Park of course..).
Here’s five players from the two Championship-bound sides I think we could / should look at:
Aaron Mooy (Huddersfield)
I’m a fan of Mooy and so if Rafa if you believe some of the Chronicle’s reports over the past few years, with them suggesting that the Spaniard’s been impressed by what he’s seen ever since our 2016/17 Championship campaign. With Shelvey looking likely to leave this summer, the arrival of Mooy could be a shrewd addition. He’s good technically and has an eye for a goal but, crucially, is a hard worker too.
Ryan Sessegnon (Fulham)
The 18-year-old was tipped for big things last summer, but hasn’t quite hit it off during his first season in the top flight. That said, he’d still demand a big fee, being a bright English talent who could be an exciting addition to our ranks, with him being comfortable operating as left wing-back or left-winger. I can’t see us paying the fee required, but if Ashley really does want young players with huge potential, he would be worth a punt.
Phillip Billing (Huddersfield)
The 22-year-old looks a promising talent and could become a very handy midfielder with the right management, being 6ft 4′ but pretty mobile and impressive technically for his size. With Shelvey, Diame and Hayden all at risk of leaving this summer, we may be in need of new blood in the middle of the park.
Tom Cairney (Fulham)
At 28 and after a quiet season with Fulham it’s hard to know if Ashley would sanction this deal, but the Chronicle did reveal just a few days ago that Rafa Benitez is still an admirer of the midfielder. Considering Fulham’s relegation and our ‘long-term interest’, it’s definitely one to watch.
Terence Kongolo (Huddersfield)
The Dutch international has impressed me whenever I’ve watched Huddersfield over the past year. He can play at left-back or at centre-back – meaning he could be well suited to Rafa’s 4-2-3-1 and 3-4-2-1 systems.
Joe Bryan (Fulham)
You’re probably thinking ‘a Fulham defender? really?!’ but Bryan is a player Benitez looked last summer by all accounts and could give us another much needed option at left wing-back. He arrived from Bristol City for £6m so the 25-year-old could be available at a reasonable price if he fancies another crack at Premier League football. He has good delivery, is sound technically and seems like a decent athlete, so could be a decent option to add to our limit ranks at left-back.
Fulham’s Callum Chambers is a player Rafa’s been linked to in the past (although I don’t think we need another centre-back; even if he is versatile), while Ryan Babel has also impressed during his short stint at Craven Cottage, with him being a player Benitez signed many moons ago for Liverpool.
Cameroonian midfielder Andre Zambo Anguissa may be one to watch too. It was reported last summer that we were interested in the 23-year-old before his big money move from Marseille to Fulham, so Rafa may take another look given we’ll be woefully short of CDM’s should Hayden and Diame leave.