It is clear what Newcastle United’s problem is: they are simply not scoring enough goals.
The Magpies have scored fewer than one goal a game in the Premier League so far this season, and for a team that gets over 50,000 fans for their home matches and are planning to break into the top ten in the coming years, it is simply not good enough.
If Newcastle go down to the Championship at the end of the season – and they are only 4/1 to get relegated, according to the latest football betting odds – then the main reason would be their lack of goals.
Which is why it comes as a massive surprise that Aleksandar Mitrovic has been sparingly used by manager Rafael Benitez so far this season. Mitrovic is one of the best players at Newcastle, and at 23, he is still very young and is only going to get better.
The Serbia international striker has not made a single start in the Premier League so far this season, but he has still scored one goal in 89 minutes of league football.
Last season, the 23-year-old scored four goals and provided six assists in 11 starts in the Championship.
It is clear that Newcastle manager Benitez does not rate Mitrovic highly, and it would make sense for the striker to leave the Magpies in the January transfer window. After all, there is no point in the former Anderlecht star remaining at St. James’ Park and warming the substitutes’ bench week after week.
Moreover, with Serbia set to feature at the 2018 World Cup finals in Russia next summer, Mitrovic has to be on top form in order to make an impact for his national team.
The Serbian has been linked with moves away from Newcastle in the January transfer window, with West Bromwich Albion reported to be interested in him.
Of course, joining a club like the Baggies who could get relegated from the Premier League may not be ideal for Mitrovic, but he should jump at the chance of getting more playing time.
The Serbia international is going nowhere playing for a manager who does not fancy him and for a club who are fighting for survival, and it would not be too bad of an idea to jump from the frying pan and into the fire if West Brom do make a move.
Even if Mitrovic has to leave Newcastle on loan for the second half of the season, he should take the opportunity. A return to Anderlecht would be great for him, especially as he knows the Belgian club well and was a massive success during his time there.
What the 23-year-old needs at this stage of his career is regular playing time and a manager who has confidence in him.
Newcastle are not going to let him leave if they do get £13 million in transfer fees – the same amount they paid Anderlecht to sign him back in the summer of 2015 – and not many clubs would be willing to pay that much money for a player who is not playing much these days.