Rafa Benitez wants to keep as much of his Newcastle United squad as he can

Moussa Sissoko (right) thinks his future lies away from Newcastle
Moussa Sissoko (right) thinks his future lies away from Newcastle
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Newcastle United boss Rafa Benitez wants to keep “as much of the squad” as he can for his Premier League promotion assault.

The Spaniard, who gave United a major boost by agreeing to stay at St James’s Park despite the club’s relegation, admits there will be comings and goings.

There might be some that have to stay and they may not be happy, but that is the way it has to be

RAFA BENITEZ

But Benitez is adamant he wants to keep the bulk of his players, even those who may want to escape the prospect of playing in the Sky Bet Championship.

“I would like to keep as much of the squad as I can because my players know what I want to do,” he said.

“Maybe there will be some who we will say ‘fine, you can go’ and it will be good for the club and player.

“There might be some that have to stay and they may not be happy, but that is the way it has to be

“We have to make sure we have a strong squad.”

Keeping the key players will be a test for Benitez given Moussa Sissoko wants out, with Arsenal a potential destination.

And Serie A clubs Napoli and Roma are ready to do battle over midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum.

The Dutch international only arrived last summer in a £14.5million move from PSV, but is keen to move on.

Benitez could also be tested on several other fronts and concedes trying to keep players is not always easy with football awash with money and inhabited by ambitious agents.

When Newcastle were relegated seven years ago, their instant return was aided considerably by a core of players who having suffered the pain of the drop, led the fightback.

The likes of Steve Harper, Steven Taylor, Fabricio Coloccini, Kevin Nolan, Joey Barton and Shola Ameobi were vital figures and Benitez would not be averse to a similar scenario from the current set-up.

“That would be perfect,” Benitez said in an interview with BBC Newcastle.

“It would be the ideal situation, if all the players said ‘we want to make sure we go up next season’.

“But in modern football with so much money, it’s impossible to control agents.

“You have to accept that these things happen, that some will leave.”

“We need to make sure the squad is strong enough.”

Sissoko has insisted his club future is on ice until the conclusion of Euro 2016.

Benitez would ideally like to keep Sissoko though the French midfielder has stated otherwise.

Sissoko – who made a late substitute appearance for France in their 2-1 win over Romania last week – was asked about his future at a press conference at the Euros.

“I am fully focused on Euro 2016 and Les Bleus. I will deal with my club situation after that,” he said.