The Newcastle United fans here in the Transfer Tavern are used to backing Rafa Benitez to the hilt. Indeed, while villainous owner Mike Ashley might not be fully supportive, the Geordie faithful believe Rafa can really do no wrong.
Well, at least they did. Some of our punters clad in black and white really aren’t all too happy about reports linking popular midfielder Mikel Merino with a move away from Tyneside this summer.
The Spaniard, who looked so good during his first few months at the club, has been widely touted to move back to La Liga this summer after falling out of the Magpies’ first XI during the second half of his maiden campaign. Clearly, there must be something going on behind the scenes. Newcastle, especially under Mike Ashley, wouldn’t be so stupid as to leave themselves short of a quality player, so all must not be well.
However, some of our drinkers think Benitez would be making a huge mistake in selling the former Borussia Dortmund man. After all, how many times has a young player struggled to settle during his first season before kicking on in his second?
Merino is Newcastle’s most talented player. Selling him – barring a huge money offer – would not only deprive them of a gifted midfielder but also send the wrong message.
What kind of young player would want to move to St. James’ Park? The team is barely packed to the rafters with quality and when one does, he wants to leave straight away. Not a good message to be sending.
Rafa Benitez hasn’t made many mistakes since taking over Newcastle but he could be about to make his biggest yet.