Sunderland to Newcastle: Javier Manquillo thrilled to join up with Rafa Benitez

Javier Manquillo in action for Sunderland. Picture by FRANK REID
Javier Manquillo in action for Sunderland. Picture by FRANK REID

Javier Manquillo joined Newcastle United from Atletico Madrid – then backed Rafa Benitez to take the Magpies back to the top.

Manquillo yesterday became the fourth summer signing at St James’s Park.

The fact that I can play in different positions has helped me to play more

JAVIER MANQUILLO

And the defender, who has signed a three-year deal, is looking forward to playing for Benitez at the “biggest” club in the North East.

“I was very happy when I received the phone call from Rafa,” said Manquillo, who spent last season on loan at Sunderland.

“I know that he’s a very big manager and he’s going to try to manage this group very well.

“I think he’s going to take this club to where it belongs to be.

“With such a big manager as Rafa, I’m going to try to follow him and take his advice to improve as a player and a person as well.”

Manquillo – who can play in either full-back position – also had a loan spell at Benitez’s former club Liverpool.

And Newcastle’s manager has recruited the 23-year-old for his Premier League experience and versatility.

“The fact that I can play in different positions has helped me to play more and to help the team more depending on the moment,” said the Spain Under-21 international.

“I just hope to play under the manager’s direction, whether it’s right, left or whatever.”

“Having experience in different leagues is going to help me, but also the fact that I already know the Premier League.

“That’s going to help me adapt more quickly from the first moment.”

Manquillo met his new team-mates at their training base in Ireland this week.

“From the first moment my team-mates have welcomed me and tried to help me to adapt as quickly as possible,” said Manquillo. “The fact that some of the staff and players are Spanish speakers is helping me to settle and communicate better.

“I trained with Ayoze with the Spanish Under-21 national team. And also Jesus Gamez, but just for a couple of weeks in pre-season with Atletico.”

Manquillo will have no problems adjusting to life in the city, having lived on Tyneside during his year at the Stadium of Light.

“I already know the city – I was living near the city centre – so I will have no problems in adapting quickly,” he said.

On crossing the Tyne-Wear divide, Manquillo added: “When I went from Real Madrid to Atletico, I was very young, so making that change was different.

“More recently I played for Sunderland, but now I’ve got the opportunity to join this big club, the biggest in the North East.”