Daryl Murphy was one of Rafa Benitez's best buys at Newcastle – now he must be replaced

Daryl Murphy
Daryl Murphy

Daryl Murphy hardly kicked a ball in the first few months of his Newcastle United career.

But the striker went on to earn his Championship medal in the second half of the season.

Murphy's signing was questioned by some fans last summer.

READ MORE: Rafa Benitez reveals why he will let Daryl Murphy leave Newcastle

He was 33 at the time and hardly the big-name player that fans were craving at the time.

Murphy joined last August in a deal valued at around £3million. He signed a two-year contract at St James's Park.

Daryl Murphy

Daryl Murphy

Rafa Benitez knew what he wanted. And in Murphy, he got it.

United's manager wanted Championship experience. He wanted an alternative to Dwight Gayle. And he wanted another older head in the dressing room.

Newcastle also knew that if they got promoted, there would be a market for Murphy this summer.

And so it has proved.

Rafa Benitez

Rafa Benitez

The 34-year-old is on the verge of a move to Nottingham Forest.

Murphy, also a target for his former club Sunderland, left United's training camp in Ireland yesterday to undergo a medical at the Championship club, who have offered him a three-year deal.

If, as expected, the deal goes through, he will bring calmness, experience and goals to Forest.

When he was called up last season, Murphy showed that he still knows how to find the back of the net.

He led the line, held the ball up and brought others into play. He's an intelligent footballer.

The Republic of Ireland international netted against Birmingham City in January on what was only his second start for the club. And he scored in the two following games.

Murphy's winner away to Brentford was an important goal at an important time for the club.

And his all-important second goal against Huddersfield Town in March was even more significant. And who can forget THAT finish at the John Smith's Stadium?

Murphy ended the season with six goals in all competitions. Not bad for a player who only started nine games.

Benitez put his faith in Murphy. He seemingly trusted him more than he trusted Aleksandar Mitrovic, his other striker. And Murphy repaid Benitez.

“I was really pleased with his contribution last season, not just because he played games and scored goals," said Benitez. "But he led by example, both in the dressing room and training.

"He was a positive influence on the team.”

Certainly, Ipswich Town, his former club, missed him last season.

“Murph was brilliant for us, and we have missed him, no doubt about that,” said Ipswich manager Mick McCarthy.

“We have missed his goals, his power, his pace and his ability up front to stick the ball for us.

“We have tried a number of things to replace him that haven’t worked."

The challenge for Benitez now is to replace him with a striker capable of doing what Murphy did in the Championship, and more, in the Premier League.

And that will be easier said than done.