Rafa Benitez to decide on Rolando Aarons' future as ace heads into final year of deal
Rafa Benitez must decide what to do with enigmatic Newcastle United winger Rolando Aarons '“ with the youngster going into the final year of his contract.
Aarons suffered another injury-hit campaign in which he only made 11 first-team appearances.
But he finished the season with a bang, exploding off the bench in the final game against Tottenham Hotspur to score and set up Daryl Janmaat for the final game in the 5-1 rout after a scorching run.
Aarons is undoubtedly a talent – he has attracted interest from Arsenal and Manchester City in the past – but his fitness issues have held his progress back.
Newcastle released their retained list last week, with Swiss defender Kevin Mbabu getting a two-year contract extension, but there was no reference to Aarons, who many thought was out of contract this summer.
The club have since confirmed to the Gazette that Aarons has a year remaining on his deal – as has goalkeeper Freddie Woodman.
With Benitez having already shipped out Gabriel Obertan and Sylvain Marveaux, and with doubts remaining over the long-term future of Andros Townsend – the subject of speculation that Crystal Palace are keen on him – and French flop Florian Thauvin, there is potentially room for Aarons to shine in the Championship.
He impressed Benitez in training in the last few weeks of the season, but the former Real Madrid boss wanted to go with more experienced players in the battle to beat the drop.
And Benitez must now decide whether Aarons – who has made just six starts in two seasons – is physically able to withstand the rigours of a 46-game Championship.
Benitez will assess his squad when they return to pre-season training, with decisions to make on number of youngsters, including Mbabu and Adam Armstrong.
It may be that he will look to farm them out on loan for further experience, with Armstrong in particular having benefitted from his spell at Coventry City.
The 18-year-old has been linked with a loan switch to SPL side Kilmarnock, managed by former Newcastle favourite Lee Clark.