Rafa Benitez was introduced on Wednesday night as the new Newcastle manager after two weeks of negotiations with Newcastle – and there was a huge sigh of relief coming from Newcastle fans that we could even hear over here in North Carolina.
As well as his press conference, Rafa gave a few interviews and this man is so “all football” that whatever he says is always interesting and Rafa doesn’t waste words either.
Rafa Benitez is Newcastle United
It’s a strange thing to say but we are now back in the big time with Rafa in charge – even though we are now in the second division.
Rafa was asked if he had called those players who contracts will not be extended and he said he hadn’t, because he had been busy and wanted to wait until he was sure he was going to be the Newcastle manager – so that makes a lot of sense.
And some of the changes we will see with Rafa in charge of the club, is the club being a lot more professional and basically a much better run football club.
This year we wouldn’t expect players who had been at the club for years to be told in a haphazard style, that their contracts would not be extended, like Jonas Gutierrez and Ryan Taylor were told last year,
That was inexcusable and pointed to the lack of experience in management of those running the club.
That’s been fixed and will not happen under Rafa.
So the first thing we would expect to hear fairly shortly are those players who will be released and we expect them to include Steven Taylor whose 12 years playing in the Newcastle first team will come to an end.
Gabby Obertan and Sylvain Marveaux have already been released and Rafa will also need to decide which players with contracts will be made available for transfer.
Those players could include the likes of Yoan Gouffran, Emmanuel Riviere, Henri Saivet and Fabricio Coloccini.
Rafa hasn’t seen Colo much in training so he may want to hold off on that until he checks Colo out, but now would be a good time for Fabricio to leave Newcastle after eight years on Tyneside.
Rafa will probably want to also check out Sammy Ameobi and Haris Vuckic who are returning from loan spells, but it’s going to be difficult for those two to have any future at Newcastle.
Then there are youngsters like Freddy Woodman and Rolando Aarons and we’d like to see both of them kept at the club with news leaked earlier in the week that Kevin Mbabu will get a new two year deal – so that’s good.
And then will Rafa want to keep old hands Cheick Tiote and Papiss Cisse?
If we were to hazard a guess we’d say he will want to keep Tiote but will allow Papiss to move on – so we could get a decent fee for Papiss – maybe £5M?
Some of those players mentioned above are on decent wages and if they go they will not be missed too much – so it’s a good opportunity for the club to trim the wage bill.
Other players could be sent out on loan including Florian Thauvin, who may be a problem to unload this summer.
Remy Cabella will be sold for around £6.3M to Marseille, with the deal being officially completed at the start of the next financial year on July 1st.
The good news is that Newcastle can do a lot of trimming of the squad without losing any players that Rafa has relied on in his 10 games in charge last season.