Was This A Transfer Mistake By Rafa Benitez?
With it looking likely that Islam Slimani will be out with a thigh strain until late March, the decision to loan Aleksandar Mitrovic to Fulham in January by Rafa is looking slightly more questionable.
Of course, the Serbian wasn`t really in the manager`s plans, and was firmly behind the likes of Joselu and Dwight Gayle in the pecking order as well. But the 23-year-old has already scored two goals during his short time at Craven Cottage, and there is a part of me thinking that we should have given him more opportunities this season.
Despite a suspension and his back injury that kept him out for six weeks, Mitro was available for 13 Premier League games this campaign, but he failed to start one of them. There`s no doubt the striker wasn`t ever fully trusted by the boss, but he could have been used more regularly when it became clear we were struggling in front of goal.
It could be said that with Gayle scoring twice at the weekend that we don`t need our No.45, but the striker came off with a tight hamstring at the weekend. A major concern considering his history of problems with that injury. With Slimani also out of contention for the weekend, we may have to line up with Joselu versus Liverpool.
The Spaniard has had his good moments in a Newcastle shirt this season, but I don`t think there are many members of the Toon Army out there who would advocate playing the 27-year-old ahead of the Serbian international.
Mitrovic simply has many superior attributes to the former Stoke player in my opinion. He is quicker, more aggressive, and is a better all-round finisher. Was it a mistake letting him go last month? We will have to see. If we manage to get our new signing from Leicester back sooner than anticipated, and he starts hitting the back of the net, then Rafa`s decision to loan out another forward won`t seem like a terrible decision.
Slimani certainly has the potential to be a big hit on Tyneside, and while Mitro has been unable to establish himself in the first team at Premier League level, the Algerian could be exactly what we need. I trust our manager`s decision on this one, but it`s still frustrating seeing our new first choice frontman out of action, while we have another banging in goals for another team; all be it in the Championship.