When Newcastle signed Mitrovic from Anderlecht in July 2015 for £13million, it was common knowledge what they were getting. A very talented player, with an extremely hot head. Mitrovic has been a player that you couldn’t quite rely on and that showed at the end of last season as he was sent off for a needless challenge in Newcastle’s 5-1 victory over Tottenham in the final game of last season. He became the only player in Premier League history to score a goal, assist a goal and get sent off in the same match. That accolade alone sums him up nicely.
Despite his obvious quality (he is a player that capable of terrorising Championship defences) it is clear that Benitez decided that it was too much of a gamble to have him as his main striker this season.
So he turned to the transfer market and signed the late developer Dwight Gayle to help spearhead his attack. And due to the fact that Mitrovic was to serve a 4 match ban, he went straight into the side as Newcastle’s number one forward and hasn’t looked back.
After rising through the leagues quickly having been spotted playing non-league football, Dwight Gayle ended up at Crystal Palace. He showed glimpses of quality, but perhaps it was just slightly too soon in his development to be starting games regularly in the Premier League.
This hasn’t been the case in the Championship however, and he has repaid the faith shown in him by Benitez by scoring 11 goals in 12 league appearances so far this season.
However, after missing the last two matches, in which his replacement Mitrovic has scored 4 goals, a debate has been raging among fans over who should start for Newcastle moving forward.
Ultimately, Dwight Gayle has not put a foot wrong and deserves to regain his place when he returns from injury.
There is one other option – that they play together in a front two. With both players scoring for fun at the moment, it is a scary proposition for Championship defences, but when questioned it doesn’t seem to be something Benitez is considering.
“If they score two goals, each one every time that they play, I’m not too worried about playing one at a time,” Benitez replied with a smile when asked if Gayle and Mitrovic could start together against Cardiff City on Saturday.
“Maybe the other one can score two goals and I’ll be happy with that. No-one can guarantee that if you play with two strikers you will be much better. So we are quite good now, and we will keep enjoying this situation.”
However, if both players continue to knock at his door for a starting place, it may be an option that he has to consider.