Newcastle striker Aleksandar Mitrović seems to be in manager Rafa Benitez’s doghouse after being dropped yet again. The Serbian striker did not even travel to the midweek clash against fellow promotion hopefuls Reading. The 22 year-old striker now appears to be the third choice striker on Tyneside, and with a spending spree in the works if Newcastle gain automatic promotion back to the Premier League, Mitrović could be on the move.
West Ham United were rumored to be interested in the player in January, but it seemed that the board focused on replacing an injured Angelo Ogbonna with José Fonte and bringing in Robert Snodgrass to take Dimitri Payet’s place after Payet’s move back to Marseille. There have been various reports about the amount of money that the board will be looking to invest in the squad in the summer, and with Jonathan Calleri’s loan set to expire and the constant fitness issues with Diafra Sakho and Andy Carroll still being a problem, many expect West Ham to bring in another striker during the summer transfer window.
Will Mitrović be playing in the London Stadium next season? Our friends at Coming Home Newcastle, the SBNation Newcastle blog, wrote about the constant speculation and Benitez saying that the constant chatter “means someone close to him was interested to do business.” While Mitrović hasn’t seen the pitch much under Benitez, his goal scoring record in Newcastle’s disastrous 2015-16 season, scoring nine goals, was better than the best season Dwight Gayle, the current top striker at Newcastle, has ever had in the top flight, which was seven goals in 2013-14 when he played for Crystal Palace.
So will Mitrović be on the move? Or is this just a ploy from Mitrović’s agent to get a better deal someplace else or to get him a better deal at Newcastle? Benitez seemed to hint that he believed that the player’s agent was behind the rumors of the player’s impending exit, and it wouldn’t be the first time an agent was planting stories in the press about a player’s intentions. The better question, of course, is why would West Ham want a striker who can’t get in the starting XI for a Championship club? While Mitrović is young, only 22 years old, there is no reason for West Ham to pony up for his services when the team already has two quality young strikers in Ashley Fletcher and Toni Martinez. West Ham need an established striker to take pressure off of Andy Carroll, not another kid who might, or might not, be any good.