Islam Slimani will be remembered at Newcastle for one moment of madness
It's a tale of two strikers.
Aleksandar Mitrovic hasn’t stopped scoring since joining Fulham.
Islam Slimani, however, hasn’t yet started scoring for Newcastle United.
And Slimani has probably already kicked his last ball for the club.
Less than 24 hours after Aleksandar Mitrovic headed Fulham to a victory over Sunderland at Craven Cottage, Slimani took to the field at St James’s Park.
Slimani took a swipe at Craig Dawson before leaving the pitch. The ill-advised kick could see him banned for Newcastle’s three remaining games.
The Algeria’s United career looks to be over before it really began.
Slimani, again, didn’t want to talk as he left St James’s Park.
The 29-year-old had a bit more to say when he was unveiled in February.
“(Rafa Benitez) trusts me, and when you have the trust of your coach that’s very important,” said Slimani.
“They trusted me at Leicester, it’s not that I wasn’t trusted, I started well but then I was dogged by bad health and injuries.”
Slimani wasn’t Rafa Benitez’s first-choice target. Or even his second. Or third.
The Algeria international was on a list of potential January targets, but the one Benitez really wanted was Nicolai Jorgensen. Newcastle wouldn’t meet Feyenoord’s asking price, and the one deal they could do on deadline day was Slimani, who had a thigh injury when he signed, suffered a setback in February and didn’t make his debut until March 31.
Slimani does offer something different. He’s powerful in the air, mobile and has a good record in front of goal.
But, when he did eventually make his debut, his rustiness was evident.
Unfortunately, the loan move hasn’t worked, and Slimani won’t be back next season. But the costs of Slimani’s loan will, most likely, be wiped out by an increase in Mitrovic’s value.
United didn’t have a credible offer for the 23-year-old in January, or even last summer.
That won’t be the case this summer, when Newcastle will attempt to get close to £20million for Mitrovic.
Fulham, for one, want him. Many United fans want him back at St James’s Park, but Benitez doesn’t.
Mitrovic’s move has been a “win-win situation”, according to Benitez.
The Serbia international’s got the regular football he wanted before the World Cup, while his value has also risen. Everyone’s a winner.
Slimani’s value, by contrast, has plummeted.
Signed from £29million two years ago after a successful spell at Sporting Lisbon, Slimani will be worth a lot less than that, even in today’s inflated market.
Slimani hasn’t had much to say since arriving on Tyneside, and, sadly, his feet haven’t done his talking in the 131 minutes he’s had on the pitch.
And he’ll be remembered on Tyneside for one moment of madness.