Why Rafa Benitez is bringing ex-Sunderland defender Javier Manquillo to Newcastle

Javier Manquillo
Javier Manquillo

Javier Manquillo spent most of last season on Sunderland's bench.

So why is he about to sign for Newcastle United?

Manquillo is set to join the club from Atletico Madrid.

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Rafa Benitez needs a right-back to compete with DeAndre Yedlin, another former Sunderland loanee, in the Premier League.

But Manquillo?

Rafa Benitez

Rafa Benitez

The 23-year-old was kept out of David Moyes' side for much of last season by Billy Jones.

And the decision to move for the Spain Under-21 international has been mocked on Wearside.

The reaction on Tyneside to the imminent signing has been muted. Most fans have backed Benitez's judgement.

Manquillo started last season in Moyes' team.

Like his team, he had a tough time. And Jones went on to replace him in the starting XI.

Manquillo returned to the side at left-back late in the season when Bryan Oviedo suffered an injury, and the Madrid-born player had a better run in the team.

So where will he play this season?

Benitez needed a right-back. And Manquillo will offer cover for Yedlin.

He was also looking for another left-back, having made Achraf Lazaar, signed last summer from Palermo, available for transfer.

Massadio Haidara's future also seemingly lies away from St James's Park.

So Manquillo's versatility is a plus, so too is the Premier League experience he gained at Sunderland and previously with Benitez's former club Liverpool in the 2014-15 season.

Benitez feels he can improve Manquillo defensively.

He feels Manquillo is at a good age, and will get better.

But he will come in, initially, as a squad player.

The other factor is the price. Manquillo – who has only played a handful of first-team games for Atletico – will be a relatively cheap addition.

Benitez's priorities are elsewhere.

He needs to sign a striker, while central midfield also needs strengthening. Benitez also wants another goalkeeper.

And Benitez made a telling comment at yesterday's launch of Newcastle's new all-black third kit in Dublin.

“We’re not signing top-class players in the Premier League," said United's manager.

"We’re signing the players we can and the players who can do a job for us."