Newcastle United briefing: Rafa Benitez tracking winger, Isaac Hayden interview

Rafa Benitez
Rafa Benitez

Rafa Benitez is compiling lists of potential transfer targets ahead of the January transfer window.

Benitez and his staff are tracking a number of targets at home and abroad.

Among them is Alfonso Pedraza, who is on loan from Villarreal at Alaves.

We have more on United's interest in the winger.

Also, midfielder Isaac Hayden has spoken about his adjustment to the Premier League.

And coach Peter Beardsley has a message for Dan Barlaser, who scored a stunning goal for the Under-23s in their 2-1 win over Sparta Prague this week.

Alfonso Pedraza

Alfonso Pedraza

Here's your daily briefing:

Winging it

Pedraza spent the second half of last season on loan at Leeds United.

The 21-year-old played in April's meeting between Newcastle and Leeds at St James's Park.

Alfonso Pedraza and Vurnon Anita

Alfonso Pedraza and Vurnon Anita

Benitez has had Pedraza watched at Alaves.

Pedraza – who plays for Spain's Under-21s alongside United midfielder Mikel Merino – is a potential January target for the club.

"I think for us now, we have names and we have options and are following players," said Benitez earlier this month.

"We have as much information as we can for everyone. Then you have to bring players here in order for them to adapt here.

Isaac Hayden is mobbed by his team-mates after scoring against Southampton

Isaac Hayden is mobbed by his team-mates after scoring against Southampton

"It’s not as if you are bringing a player who you know straight away will be fantastic.”


Hayden joined Newcastle from Arsenal last year.

The 22-year-old, however, had never played in the Premier League, having only featured in cup games for the club.

And Hayden is relishing every moment on the pitch – good and bad – this season.

"I’m just enjoying it," said Hayden. "I’m going to have bad games and good games. But I’m learning as I go along and trying to improve week by week and take little things from each game."

Rafa Benitez and Matz Sels

Rafa Benitez and Matz Sels

Matz factor

United's Matz Sels has had a difficult few months at loan club Anderlecht.

But the goalkeeper, dropped last month, was back between the posts for last night's game against Zulte Waregem.

And Sels, signed from Gent last year, made a crucial penalty save in his team's 2-0 win.

Watch the 25-year-old's save here.

Dan's the man

Barlaser has had a memorable few days.

The 20-year-old last week signed a contract extension. And things got better for Barlaser this week.

Barlaser netted from 30-yards in the club's Premier League International Cup win over Sparta at Whitley Park.

And Beardsley had a message for the Gateshead-born player, now under contract at the club until 2019, after Tuesday night's match.

"We hope they all can push on, but that’s not our decision," said Beardsley. "The main man (Benitez) makes the right decisions.

“Ultimately, that’s what will happen. The club think highly of Dan. He’s signed another contract. He loves it here.”

Dan Barlaser

Dan Barlaser