There are two players who Newcastle signed in the summer who have not featured much at all for the first team.
They are Swiss center-back Fabian Schar and central midfielder Ki Sung-yueng.
Ki Sung-yueng joined Newcastle on a free transfer in the summer from Swansea but has sometimes not been in the squad as he shares backup duties with Isaac Hayden.
Ki has said he is fit, and that’s it’s Rafa who has simply not been selecting him; it’s selection decisions made by the gaffer.
Ki has significant Premier League experience having played almost 160 Premier League games for Swansea, and for Sunderland when he was on loan there in season 2013-2014.
He has also played 107 times for South Korea and was their former captain, but he seems out of favor at Newcastle.
Ki Sung-yueng in action at Hull in preseason
He’s played only one game for Newcastle at Manchester City in the 2-1 loss, and that’s it.
Jonjo Shelvey and Mo Diame are holding down the two central midfield spots as they did earlier this year in the second half of last season.
Ki did play for South Korea last night in their 2-1 victory over Uruguay at the Seoul World Cup Stadium.
This is what Ki has told Yonhap News.:
“I haven’t played a match for my club for about a month, but I’m fine,”
“Even though I didn’t play in a match, I worked out a lot and it actually helped me to prepare for this match.”
“I’m training well at Newcastle.”
“Bento (South Korea coach) is telling us to play with confidence even if we make mistakes in the build-up process.”
“A build up can start from full-backs or a midfielder, but basically we try to outnumber the opponents when possessing the ball.”
“Bento gives us detailed explanations, which is something we haven’t seen on the national team before.”
“I can’t confirm whether I will certainly retire [from International football) as I cannot make the decision on my own,”
“But I did organise my thoughts to some extent.”
“For the last four years as a captain, I felt responsible for not leading this team well.”
“I saw many coaches come and go and felt the considerable responsibility on my shoulders as a captain, so that really tired me out.”
“But I haven’t made up my mind yet. I will announce it when the time comes” .
“When I started to play in Europe, I cared about the national team whenever I made decisions.”
“Until now, I’ve sacrificed for my national team, and I considered my national team important, so I had picked a club where I can play many games.”
“But now the World Cup is over, and I don’t have to do it that way.”
Ki seems upbeat still about Newcastle, but this could be an ominous sign for him.
When Rafa doesn’t use a player, it could be because there’s a part of their game he doesn’t like.
We’ve had players like Aleksandar Mitrovic and Achraf Lazaar get very little playing time by Rafa – with Lazaar only making 10 appearances for the first team since h singed in the summer of 2016.
But Lazaar didn’t have any previous PL experience and that’s the same with Mitro.
When Ki was signed, we thought he would offer some good competition in central midfield, and he’s got a wealth of Premier League experience with Swansea and with Sunderland.
Maybe Rafa could be asked in his next press conferences why Ki (and Fabian Schar) have not been in the squad for some games?
For Schar, it’s becasue of the competition in central defense, but that doesn’t seem to be the case in central midfield.
What do you think?