Mo Diame claims he ‘wasn’t fit enough’ to play in a second striker during his first season on Tyneside, suggesting this may have been the main reason he failed to make an immediate impact.
The former Senegalese international had always played in a midfield role during his time with Wigan and West Ham, however Benitez opted to play him in an advanced role during our year in the Championship, with Mo often operating just behind Dwight Gayle in attack.
Since promotion he’s reverted back to a central midfield role and has performed much better as a result, although it remains to be seen if he’ll leave on a free this summer, with him failing to trigger a new one-year extension.
Speaking to BBC Radio Newcastle, Diame has reflected on his time at the club – but insists that his time on Tyneside may not be over just yet.
Rafa’s decision to play him as a attacking number 10 was one I always struggled to get my head around, with his size and physicality far better used in the middle of the pitch, however we did gain promotion that season – so it must have worked to some extent!
Diame’s comments over his future are mixed. He insists ‘it’s not finished’, suggesting he may yet sign a new deal at St James’ Park, but it seems the odds are not in his favour as things stand.
Either way, he has been a good servant, having played his part over the last few seasons, transforming from a struggling number 10 to a dominant defensive midfielder.