Rafa Benitez did pretty well to keep Newcastle United afloat in the top flight last season but the fact that he took them to a 10th place finish, has given the fans plenty of excitement ahead of the new campaign. The manager is yet to add a star name to his side this summer but has allowed a few of his first-team stars to quit the club already.
One such player who has completed his move away from the club is Mikel Merino. The Spanish midfielder showed decent promise early last season but an injury and loss of form saw him miss out on games late in the season. The 22-year old joined Newcastle United on a permanent deal just last summer but he has now completed a move to La Liga side Real Sociedad. So how can Rafa replace Merino in the first team? Here are three players the Spaniard should target to replace the youngster this summer:
The former Swansea City midfielder turned a free agent, after the end of the last season and was one of the first signings for Rafa this summer. At 29, the Korean international has loads of experience at the highest stage in England and will certainly push Mo Diame and Jonjo Shelvey for a place in the first team. He is probably signed as a replacement for Merino and on a free transfer is a decent acquisition for the Magpies.
Marko Grujic (Liverpool):
The Serbian international is yet to break into the first team at Anfield but showed enough grit with Cardiff City, helping them achieve promotion in the last season. He is now back with Liverpool and Jurgen Klopp might assess him in the preseason but with the signing of Naby Keita and Fabinho, Liverpool have no place for Grujic in the first team and he could be available on loan yet again. Newcastle United should definitely give Grujic a shot, as he has the attributes to be a hit in the Premier League.
The Ivory Coast international quit Manchester City as a free agent last season and has recently revealed that he is ready to play for another couple of seasons in England. He is not as stable as Merino defensively but is an upgrade on his attacking attributes. He is 35 and has loads of experience and is already in talks with West Ham United. But Newcastle United should try to hijack this move, as Toure could be a huge asset for the club next season.