Rafa Benitez responds to Aleksandar Mitrovic’s comments – and names two players who can leave Newcastle

Aleksandar Mitrovic
Aleksandar Mitrovic

Rafa Benitez says Aleksandar Mitrovic might have to stay at Newcastle United.

The Serbia international striker, desperate to be playing week in, week out ahead of the World Cup finals, is ready to quit the club in next month’s transfer window.

Mitrovic said: “I persistently waited for the chance over the past months and I did not get it.

“I’m sorry – after all, I loved Newcastle, but it’s time for me to look more to myself, to find the best solution for my career.

“I tried to be honest with myself and my team-mates at every training and match.

“And the fact that I did not get a chance is simply not up to me.

January’s a difficult time, especially for players who are not playing and also have the World Cup,

Rafa Benitez

“I never felt better. I’m physically in flawless form. I cannot wait to play.

“The most important thing is to find a club and finally get a chance in the field.”

United manager Benitez wants to sign a striker in the January window.

However, if he can’t, Mitrovic – who is sidelined with a back problem – will not be allowed to leave Newcastle.

In any case, the club is yet to receive a serious bid for the 23-year-old, signed from Anderlecht two and a half years ago.

“January’s a difficult time, especially for players who are not playing and also have the World Cup,” said Benitez, who is looking to move out midfielder Jack Colback and loan out defender Jamie Sterry.

“They want to play. But we have the same situation where we approach teams and sometimes we can sign, sometimes we cannot.

“We have Sterry and Colback, who can go. That’s very clear.

“The rest of the players? It depends on what is happening in the market.

“If we don’t move forward, then maybe everyone has to stay.”

Sterry signed a new four-year contract at United last year.

The 22-year-old had a loan spell at Coventry City last season.

“Sterry would probably be a loan,” said Benitez.