The soap opera surrounding Newcastle United under Mike Ashley enters its latest plot, as Rafa Benitez arrives on Tyneside aiming to guide them away from dropping out of the Premier League.
Despite a huge investment of around £80m over the course of the last two transfer windows, the Toon Army have struggled to translate that on to success on the pitch while under the stewardship of Steve McClaren.
Clearly, there will be changes at St. James’ Park over the summer, no matter the outcome of Rafa’s fire fighting mission. Quite the nature of such changes are not yet clear, though it’s easy to imagine the Spaniard stamping his authority onto the squad should he keep them up.
If not, most of the recent arrivals are likely to depart the sinking ship in the North East, including Benitez himself.
Either way, much of a squad who have so often disappointed is likely to be torn up as the club assess themselves after yet another relegation scrap under the Mike Ashley regime,
Considering all of this, here are FIVE key stars that could leave Newcastle United this summer.
Daryl Janmaat sums up modern day full-backs reasonably well. The Dutchman is lauded for his attacking enterprise most of the time, though often leaves gaps in behind as a result.
To call him a liability would be a touch too harsh, though he is also prone to the odd disciplinary lapse.
Still, he’s been one of the club’s best players over the two awful seasons he has spent on Tyneside.
That fact has not gone unnoticed, with Serie A giants Juventus understood to be monitoring his situation in the North East.
Whatever division Newcastle find themselves in next season, surely they will be without captain (if you can call him that) Fabricio Coloccini.
The fact the Argentine is still the lynchpin of their defence is pretty telling of the state the Toon Army find themselves in right now. Still, there’s little point in lamenting that amidst their bid to beat the drop, though this summer should see him depart.
Aside for a stellar season under Alan Pardew almost half a decade ago now, the 34-year old has been on a downward spiral since excelling in the Championship.
A return to Argentina, as was denied to him over three years ago, should be afforded to the Magpies skipper as they plot to rejuvenate their stale squad.
Siem De Jong must be wondering what he got himself into after leaving Ajax in the summer of 2014. Similarly, Newcastle must be wondering what they bought.
It’s been a largely unhappy relationship between the two parties for over a year and half now, with the Dutch playmaker desperately unlucky with injuries during his time on the books.
Still, even that is no excuse for some of his ineffective displays, including a glaring miss against Aston Villa in December that could prove vitally important in deciding their fate.
With Ayoze Perez and Georgino Wijnaldum able to operate as a Number 10, perhaps Benitez could call time on the 27-year old’s spell in the North East.
Papiss Cisse could yet prove pivotal in the relegation run in, as he has done before, though it will surely be his last contribution to Newcastle United as a player.
Aside from a blistering start, the Senegalese marksman has been hugely inconsistent for the club. Going forward, whether it be in top tier or not, surely he is not the man tasked with spearheading the Magpies’ attack much longer.
A money spinning switch to the Chinese Super League was rumoured over the winter transfer window, which is a rather likely outcome in the summer, whatever happens in the time between.
If Newcastle to succumb to a second relegation under Mike Ashley, Moussa Sissoko will definitely leave the club. If they stay up, he should definitely leave the club.
The Frenchman has been an established first-teamer since his move from Toulouse in January 2013 and represented an excellent signing at £1.8m.
However, his constant flirtation with Champions League football has been laughable going off his performances this term and suggests he simply views the Toon Army as a stepping stone.
That may be a common trait of modern day football, and acceptable when playing well, though does no one any favours when the sort of performances he has churned out this season are all that’s on offer.
His marauding runs are a useful tool when in full flow, though he all too often dwindles on the ball and loses any momentum required in order to spring a counter attack.
Andros Townsend is a much a better option on the right flank, though even his future could be cast into doubt should Benitez fail in his task.