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Newcastle United appear to have done well to ensure that they have plenty of their current squad on contracts long enough to see them into the Premier League next season. Two players whose deals are up though, are Dutch defender-cum-midfielder Vurnon Anita and French winger Yoan Gouffran.
Opinion among the fans tends to be divided on Tyneside regarding these two, but the only thing that truly matters is what Rafa Benitez thinks. In the case of Anita, it would be surprising if he was retained. A midfield birth for the former Ajax man in the Premier League looks like pure fantasy now and so his only hope would be to remain in Rafa’s squad as a right-back.
The fact that DeAndre Yedlin seemed, for the most part, to be preferred at full-back would mean Anita going into the summer as the second choice. It would not be right for Anita or the club to have him hang around as 2nd, or even 3rd choice (depending on the summer arrivals) and so when his contract runs out in June he will be allowed to leave with the best wishes of the club. It is probably the right decision.
Gouffran is in a slightly different position as he has played as the first choice in his position all season. Used out on the left by Rafa, Gouffran managed to contribute 5 goals and 3 assists in the league during what was a renaissance season. Clearly more appreciated by the former Real Madrid and Liverpool manager, Gouffran flourished especially in the first half of the season and popped up with goals at crucial times.
His form has rather tailed off and the signs are there that Benitez will not risk his quality in the top division. Firstly, it appears that the manager is very keen to sign Christian Atsu from Chelsea permanently, who is as comfortable on the left as he is on the right, while also being linked with several other players for that position. It is possible that another wide attacking player might come in and Gouffran could be allowed to go.
Newcastle, and especially Benitez, do not want to hang about and wish to make an immediate impact in the Premier League next term. Gouffran may have been capable of surprising a few people but ultimately would not possess the quality needed to carry Newcastle in the Premier League. It’s all change at St James’s Park.