Rafa Benitez says he has an open mind on the future of Moussa Sissoko at Newcastle United.
The midfielder wanted to leave St James’s Park in this summer’s transfer window.
Real Madrid and Juventus are among the clubs tracking the 26-year-old, who returned to training this week ahead of tomorrow night’s season-opener against Fulham at Craven Cottage.
Crystal Palace have also been linked with a move for Sissoko, who is rated in the £35million-bracket by Newcastle.
But, as yet, there have been no firm bids for the unsettled France international, who impressed playing for his country at Euro 2016.
United manager Benitez handed Sissoko the skipper’s armband late last season in the absence through injury of then-club captain Fabricio Coloccini.
In terms of Moussa, I think he is a good player and a good professional. I know some fans complain that he was not playing well, but what I saw was very positive.Rafa Benitez
And Benitez has again talked up the ability and professionalism of Sissoko, who came under fire from fans last season for his performances during the club’s season-long battle against relegation.
“In terms of Moussa, I think he is a good player and a good professional,” Benitez told BBC Radio Newcastle.
“I know some fans complain that he was not playing well, but what I saw was very positive.
“What I have seen is positive. I like the player.
“If he is to go, fine. If he is to stay, fine.
“He has been training.
“I have talked with his agent. (Newcastle managing director) Lee Charnley is aware of everything.
“We are doing what we have to do to protect Newcastle United.
“If he stays, it will be fine.
“If he goes because we have the right offer, it will be good too.”
Meanwhile, Fulham have accepted a £12million bid for striker Ross McCormack from Aston Villa.
McCormack had been linked with United earlier in the summer.