Aleksandar Mitrović is the marmite of Newcastle United. Adored by many and a source of frustration for others. Newcastle United’s number 45 bleeds passion but do his actions match his words? Is Mitrović a promising youngster or a waste of time?
Aleksandar Mitrović is perhaps one of the most divisive players to have graced St. James’ Park in recent times. Mitrović arrived on Tyneside in 2015 with Steve McClaren paying £13 million for his services. At the time, this looked like a great deal. Mitrović had scored 27 times in the Belgian Pro League for Anderlecht in 49 games. For a young player, they were quite extraordinary stats, putting the Serb amongst the most promising players in the world. Furthermore, Mitrović scored twice in the Champions League including at strike at the Emirates.
Clearly, at the time, this seemed a good deal, a fiery, passionate youngster seemed a good fit at Newcastle. To some this has been proven correct. Mitro, as he is called by United fans, has created a great connection with a large section of the fanbase. Big tackles and passion filled interviews displayed him to be the perfect number 9 in waiting. However, ever since his move to England, Mitro has lacked consistency. His strike rate isn’t bad but isn’t great either. Nine goals in his first season in the Premier League is a decent return.
However, many were expecting the Serb to kick on in the Championship and become a regular goalscorer. Furthermore, the Serbs disciplinary record has continued to be a problem. In 16 appearances for the Magpies, 10 of which were off the bench. Mitro has received three yellows this season. For a striker that is unnecessary. Add this to last season’s, two reds and three yellows and you can clearly see there is a problem. Many may say this is the passion which makes this fiery character who he is. However, when chasing promotion surely this is a problem. Goals have also been a concern, only converting four goals this season. Furthermore, it could have easily been more with a flurry of easy chances being missed.
Compare this to the first choice and another youngster, Dwight Gayle, who has netted 20 in 22 and you see that this is an easy decision for Benitez. Furthermore, Gayle has a higher pass completion rate and overall provides more to the team in terms of pace. However, Mitrović shouldn’t be just thrown away, there is definitely a decent player inside. However, it is proving difficult to bring him out.
Despite this, he isn’t anywhere near the level of Gayle and simply cannot be trusted to lead the team. The performance at Wolves summed Mitro up. A glimpse of a great poacher in the box with his goal but overall a liability on the pitch leading to him nearly being dismissed. Benitez chose to take him off at half-time because of it. Furthermore, if this continues to happen, eventually, Benitez will axe the Serb altogether. However, hopefully, Mitro will be able to convert his passion into goals. If he can do that he will be one popular man around Tyneside. However, it’s a tale of two youngsters heading in different directions if Mitrović doesn’t improve.
Feature Image Credit – Martin Le Roy