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Should Newcastle United keep Aleksandar Mitrovic?

Thursday 18th May 2017
The season came to a close in superb fashion for Newcastle as they, at last, claimed promotion and the trophy, something they seemed likely to do at the start of the season. However, they encountered difficulties through injuries, suspensions and a poor start, which meant they were chasing for a large part of the season.

The quality in their squad is so high though that even when they found themselves six points off the top they did not seem at all out of the title race, quite the opposite in fact.

Goals from Dwight Gayle, creativity from Jonjo Shelvey and the tireless running of Matt Ritchie have been at the heart of their promotion, while the tactical intelligence of Rafael Benitez has added a real calming nature to what can sometimes be a turbulent campaign.

With a Premier League place secured then, everyone involved with Newcastle face a hectic summer. The transfer policy, in particular, seems to have already begun with Christian Atsu brought in from Chelsea following his loan spell with the side this season.

Atsu is a player of real pace and power, happy to run directly through the middle or on the wing with his accurate crossing providing another important offensive tool for the Magpies. It is exactly this sort of astute buy that will aid Newcastle in their quest to remain in the Premier league.

While bringing in players is important, the Magpies must also look at their current squad and decide whether all of the players currently involved are worthy of their place in the squad.

One such player that will have his future extensively examined is forward Aleksandar Mitrovic.

The Serbian striker was one of the players lambasted by the fans and critics when Newcastle were relegated from the Premier League with his high potential and low-quality performances proving to be a particularly touchy subject for the fans.

This season he has found the net just six times while picking up the same amount of assists. This, in direct contrast to first-choice striker Dwight Gayle who hit 23 goals even with injuries littering his campaign.

Gayle finished the season having played 2145 minutes for the club with the Serbian appeared for 1249 minutes in the season. While the latter's goal tally may have suffered due to the fact he has played less this season, he has struggled to really take his chances when he has been given them.

His power and aggression make him a superb component in the Newcastle team when they are playing a long ball game or they are loading the box with the ball. Modern football is not as centred on crossing as it once was though. Especially in Benitez's side, there is far more of an emphasis on keeping the ball and moving it quickly. Of course, this is not to say that they do not cross the ball into the box, but there has been a shift away from a reliance on this in today's game.

Gayle seems far better suited to Newcastle's style of play and the Magpies seem more comfortable and dangerous with the English striker upfront.

If Mitrovic is happy to play a backup role then he should be kept at St James' Park. He is a clever forward that is able to exploit weaknesses in the opposition's defence with his power and aggressive nature, something that can be successful in the Premier League.

It is likely that Gayle is better suited to the challenges of England's top league though with his pace, trickery and finishing ability vital to the Magpies' survival.

Following the failed Premier League campaign of 2015/16 Mitrovic has a lot to prove. He is a talented player but he cannot be trusted as the first-choice striker until he displays that he can handle the league that turned so many against him.
Ben Darvill

I graduated with an upper second class degree in English and Creative writing from Cardiff Metropolitan University. I have been a freelance sports writer since leaving University and have written for a number of online websites. I am a Chelsea and England fan but I enjoy watching any team play as I have an intense passion for football.

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