Newcastle’s Evening Chronicle produced an article today on NUFC new signing Ki Sung-yueng, with the player stating that once Rafa was in for him there was no decision left to make.
Ki knows the score, an opportunity to work with a manager as excellent as Rafa Benitez doesn’t come along often in a lot of player’s careers. Rafa likes players who either work their bollocks off or are extremely comfortable on the ball. Ki falls mainly into the latter category, he is exceptionally comfortable on the ball and keeps things ticking over, but if he wants to stay in the team he needs to bust his bollocks like the rest of the lads.
Turning down AC Milan
A big fuss has been made about Ki turning down AC Milan. Milan is still a huge name in world football but they are a shadow of their former self. Since the Chinese took them over they have been a bit of a shambles, and that likely played into Rafa’s hands when making Ki join the Toon.
Newcastle themselves are a bit of a shambles this year, but with Rafa orchestrating the team into a very functional hardworking unit is what trumped the decision in the end. This made Ki join Newcastle and not AC Milan, even as he is approaching the peak years of his career, he can still see that Rafa has the ability to improve him greatly as a player.
Familiar faces will help Ki settle in
Ki has mentioned in nearly every interview how he had his best ever season in England while he was at Swansea playing with Jonjo Shelvey, and he sounds genuinely excited about the possibility of striking up that partnership again this season.
Add in the arrival of Federico Fernandez who signed for Newcastle on deadline day from Swansea and Ki will have some familiar faces at Newcastle with him, this should make the bedding in process easier.
Ki faces a hard job removing big Mo Diame from the starting line up
Ki will be in a 4-way battle to gain one of two central midfield spots in Newcastle’s starting line up on Saturday in the season opener against Tottenham Hotspur. Jonjo Shelvey, Mo Diame, Isaac Hayden and Ki are the central midfielders Rafa has to choose from.
Mo Diame started his career at Newcastle badly, but in the second half of last season, he turned up like a man possessed and determined to show everyone what he was capable of. His form kept Mikel Merino out of the side, and then he eventually went back to Spain as he bottled fighting for his place in the team.
If Ki wants a starting place in the side week in and week out, then he will have to outperform big Mo Diame who has become an absolute beast of a wrecking ball in central midfield for Newcastle.
We predict Ki will start on the bench on Saturday unless Mo Diame hasn’t recovered from the injury he picked up in pre-season, and if wrecking ball Mo turns up for the start of the season instead of lazy disinterested Mo, then he faces a massive battle to become a first team regular.