As the January transfer window fast approaches, the speculation of who will stay and who will leave begins. That is the reality for Rafa Benitez as he has a cluster of players that are out of contract by the end of the season.
Among those are midfielding trio Cheick Titote, Vurnon Anita and Yoan Gouffran. However, the Newcastle United boss is keen to keep the names on the roster, he said “I spoke to the three players about a month ago. I wanted them to know where we are and to make sure there wasn’t a problem."
The Spaniard added, “They are happy, they are training well, and they know the situation. But they must continue to perform."
However, Benitez admitted, "Each case is different, but they know our idea and we are working together. Maybe something will happen in the future, but selling in January is not something we are considering.”
Under Benitez many players have blossomed, such as Anita. Gouffran's resurrection is one of the main talking points on the Tyne, as the midfielder has really found his feet in the Championship. The Mags have been undefeated in every match that the Frenchman has started and to top it off he has netted four sublime goals - winning the hearts of the Geordies three years after his arrival.
On the note of rejuvinating players, Benitez said “I like to work with players individually. I like to see them improve technically and tactically."
The veteran coach is no stranger to big challenges and is clearly relishing sharing his wisdom, as he went on to say, "I like to pass on my experience because I have been in football for many years as a player, a manager and someone who studies football."
Anita has also undergone somewhat of a transformation, finding himself in the starting line up more often than not . His most notable performance under the former Real Madrid man was when he scored against Manchester City as Newcastle continued to try and stay in the top flight. In the Championship he has found his place in the squad as a right back, interchangable with this season's American import Deandre Yedlin.
While Gouffran and Anita are getting games under Benitez, Tiote has not featured since the Mag's draw against Aston Villa. Following the debacle with Shanghai Shenhua the news that Benitez wants the Coîte d' Ivoire International to stay at St James' Park comes as a surprise.
It seems as though Benitez does not want to rock the boat and is cautious about the team's current position, he said “I cannot guarantee we will win or be promoted, but when I work with the players I see a group that is working really well and improving.
He ended by saying, “We are at the top of the league – but we can get even better. Some training sessions and matches have been really good, but what we are looking for now is more consistency.”