Moussa Sissoko will try and force through a move from Newcastle United this summer – despite being told by Rafa Benitez he wants him to stay at the club.
Sissoko revealed this week that he wants to quit the Magpies after their relegation to the Championship, with Arsenal a possible destination.
He’s an important player for us and I will try and keep him at the clubRafa Benitez
But Benitez – who made Sissoko his captain for the last few games of the season – has responded by saying he wants the midfielder to stay and help Newcastle get promoted to the Premier League at the first attempt.
The United manager is under no pressure to sell his best players this summer, and says he has already held talks with the player’s agent about keeping him at St James’s Park.
Benitez said: “I’m trying to keep the squad as strong as possible so I think that we have to analyse every single situation and every single case.
“Sissoko, he knows I was talking with his agent and he knows he’s an important player for us and I will try and keep him at the club.
“These comments in the Press, it’s important to realise that won’t change things.”
Sissoko, however, is still determined to quit the club still Euro 16, where he is Newcastle’s sole representative.
The 26-year-old, who has three years left on his contract, has long spoken about wanting to join a Champions League side, and also believes playing in England’s second tier will harm his international chances.
Benitez must weigh up whether to keep hold of a player who produced some of his best form in a black and white shirt under him, or cash in on the wantaway star.
Sissoko is a strong influence in the dressing room, and having a player of his stature disaffected could harm the team ethos Benitez is trying to create.
The Gazette revealed earlier this week that Newcastle value Sissoko at £20million, and with no pressure to sell their players they can hold out for a top price should they decide to let Sissoko leave the club.