Mike Ashley must look to sanction the permanent exit of Yoshinori Muto amid claims that the striker wants out of Newcastle United this summer.
According to Chronicle Live, Muto has enjoyed his season on loan with La Liga outfit SD Eibar so much that he hopes to make a permanent switch to Spain.
The Japanese striker is relishing the lifestyle on offer in the Basque Country and the opportunities given to him under Los Armeros head coach Jose Luis Mendilibar.
Muto has been named in 27 of a possible 30 matchday squads and featured in 24 fixtures across all competitions, while scoring three goals and providing two assists, though only staring 14 of his appearances to date.
Muto would jump at the chance of sealing a permanent move to the Ipurua Municipal Stadium if the chance arises this summer, but two factors will determine Eibar’s stance.
Mendilibar’s side currently sit in the relegation zone and are two points from La Liga safety, as far as they are from basement boys SD Huesca in a close four-way battle at the bottom.
Top-flight survival may play into the second factor, which is whether Eibar are willing to pay the fee Newcastle will demand for the 28-year-old they paid 1.FSV Mainz 05 £9.5m to sign in 2018.
The Toon are expected to hold out for a fee as any funds raised while clearing the forward’s £54,000-per-week contract will be seen as a huge plus, as he enters the final year of his deal.
Newcastle will need a suitor to arrive with an offer to part with Muto, but they should not stand in the striker’s way of securing a permanent exit after proving to be a huge flop at St. James’ Park.
Muto scored just once in 17 Premier League appearances during his maiden campaign in black and white, despite showing promising signs with his strike coming away to Manchester United in October.
It proved to be a false dawn for Muto, who was once backed by Massimo Ficcadenti – his head coach at FC Tokyo – to become a “fantastic footballer”, as the now £2.5m-rated dud would soon sustain a calf injury and play just 99 minutes between November 10 and March 16.
Last season was hardly any better for the 29-cap international, as Muto featured on only 10 occasions across all competitions under Steve Bruce, with six of which awarded before the end of September as injuries again restricted his availability.
Newcastle at least managed to secure a loan fee and offload part of Muto’s wages in talks with Eibar last summer to limit the losses made on the forward, but United will not expect to make anywhere near what they paid Mainz through his sale.
Ashley may be reticent to write Muto off and accept the financial hit without a fight, yet doing so would only prolong the inevitable split with a player who has not played his way back into a Tyneside career while in Spain.