Why Rafa Benitez has NOT asked Moussa Sissoko if he’s prepared to play against Huddersfield

Newcastle United manager Rafael Benitez.
Newcastle United manager Rafael Benitez.

Rafa Benitez says he won’t be afraid to play Moussa Sissoko against Huddersfield Town – even if an appearance in black and white would anger fans.

Benitez has included Sissoko in his provisional squad for this afternoon’s game at St James’s Park.

Normally, if you ask players if they can play, they will say yes. But in this case, I didn’t ask, because I know it’s not easy for him at the moment.

Rafa Benitez

The unsettled midfielder this week pleaded with Real Madrid, one of the clubs interested in signing him, to lodge a bid.

But United are yet to receive an offer for the 26-year-old, who is rated in the £35million-bracket by the club.

Benitez has warned Sissoko’s suitors that Newcastle are not prepared to do business late in the summer transfer window, which closes on August 31.

The club’s manager called on clubs to make offers “as soon as possible”.

In the meantime, Benitez is minded to play Sissoko, though he could opt not to involve him against Huddersfield at the 11th hour.

Benitez and Sissoko spoke in the wake of the France international’s latest unauthorised interview.

Asked if Sissoko was prepared to play, if selected, against Huddersfield, Benitez said: “It’s my decision.

“Normally, if you ask players if they can play, they will say yes. But in this case, I didn’t ask, because I know it’s not easy for him at the moment.

“He has only trained for no more than 10 days with the team. We will decide. Watching him every day in training, he’s getting better. We need a solution one way or the other as soon as possible.

“If there no offer will carry on with him and try to make the best for him.”

The Huddersfield game, the club’s first home fixture in the Championship, is a sell out.

And there will be 500 flags at one end of the stadium thanks to the efforts of the Gallowgate Flags group.

Some fans have voiced fears that the involvement of Sissoko could provoke a negative reaction from supporters on a day when only positivity is needed at St James’s Park.

Benitez, however, will make his team selection purely on footballing grounds.

Asked if he had a dilemma over Sissoko given fan sentiment over his performances last season and recent interviews, Benitez said: “I was not thinking about that.

“When I prepare the squad, it’s about which players are available. He is training well.

“I can understand the frustration of the fans, but he is our player and a good professional who could be an important player for us during the season. I am happy and rate him highly.

“If anybody wants him, they have to come right now with the right offer. If not, we will carry on and try to do the best for our players

When asked if Sissoko could spend the entire season at United, he added: “Why not? If we don’t have the right offer, why not?”

Newcastle did not discipline Sissoko for two interviews he gave last week without the permission of the club’s PR department, and Benitez wouldn’t be drawn on whether he had been fine for his latest comments.

Asked about his interview, Benitez said: “I know that during the transfer window, these things can happen.

“That’s why I don’t like the window to be open now.

“At the start of the season, you know your players and want to carry on with them. Now you know somebody could still come in.

“Moussa knows my ideas. We understand he’s did really well in the Euros, and can attract a lot of clubs, but he is our player and we are happy with him.

“The market is still open and the prices are the prices.

“If somebody wants to come, they have to come now with the right offer. If not, he is our player and has to perform.”

Benitez added: “If someone wants to come, they have to make the right offer as soon as possible, or it will be impossible.”