At the end of the 2015/16 season when Newcastle United were relegated, Rafa Benitez was left with no option but to build a new squad and employ a new strategy to achieve promotion as quickly as possible.
While several players such as Andros Townsend, Daryl Janmaat and Gini Wijnaldum left to continue playing in the top flight, Benitez still managed to attract names from the Premier League to come and play for the under construction side.
Mo Diame left newly promoted Hull City in addition to turning down other Premier League names to come and play for the under construction side in the Championship. The midfielder has revealed how Benitez sealed his signature, and it will give hope to the fans as Newcastle look to add more depth to their squad in the current transfer window.
The winning pitch
Diame opened on talking about his summer move to Newcastle by crediting the club, the Sengalese international said: “There is so much potential at Newcastle. We’ve got a big squad."
Continuing on, Diame recalled the conversation that he and Benitez had that won him over to joining the relegated side: "I was talking with the manager when I signed.”
The Spaniard continued by saying: When he called me before I came here he told me he wanted to build something to get promoted and build something for next season, not to be fighting to stay in the Premier League."
Finally, after being with the club for about half a year, Diame reflected on his time so far, as well as looking to the future: “First we must get promoted as soon as possible and then we’ll see about next season but I am enjoying playing for Newcastle. I know I made the right choice,"
Diame continued: "I’m very happy at Newcastle -I just want to keep going and trying to make the fans happy.”
Diame was not the only player that the Toon managed to sign from the tier above, as Matt Ritchie left a promising Bournemouth side to join the project. With Newcastle reportedly placing a loan bid on Everton midfielder Tom Cleverley, Diame's thoughts insinuate that it is very possible the club could swoop in on the Premier League man.
Africa Cup of Nations
The Mags' midfield will deplete in numbers further as Diame is set to join his nation Senegal for the Africa Cup of Nations. As he leaves at a sticky period for Newcastle, the midfielder commented on the timing: “Of course, I wish I could stay and help the team but I spoke with the manager Rafa Benitez about it,”
Diame went on to explain how much the tournament means to him however, “It is my country, my family and I need to go and fight for Senegal in the Africa Cup of Nations.”
Christian Atsu will also join his country, Ghana, in the tournament hosted in Gabon will run from January 14 to February 5.