Former Newcastle United manager Steve McClaren has suggested Magpies striker Aleksandar Mitrovic, rated at £7.2m by Transfermarkt, is thriving during a loan spell with Fulham because he has been shown the love by Cottagers boss Slavisa Jokanovic that he has never really got from Rafa Benitez.
McClaren brought the Serbia international to St James’ Park when he was in charge in 2015, with the centre-forward scoring five goals before the former England boss was sacked in March 2016.
However, he has found life difficult under Benitez since with his temperament likely to be one of the Spaniard’s biggest concerns, and he often found himself as the third-choice striker behind Dwight Gayle and Joselu this term before the arrival of Islam Slimani on loan from Leicester City on January 31 allowed him to drop down into the Championship with Fulham.
The 23-year-old has since netted seven goals in nine appearances for the in-form west London outfit, with all of those coming in his previous six outings, and 67% of Newcastle fans said they wanted him back on Tyneside in a poll conducted last month.
It is form that hasn’t surprised McClaren, who believes it is down to his positive relationship with his manager at Craven Cottage.
The 56-year-old said, via the Chronicle Live: “He came in as a young boy at Newcastle, he needs to be loved, needs to be believed in, trusted.
“I think Jokanovic, being Serbian, I think they’ve got that connection and once you get the best out of him, he’s not only a good player outside the box, bringing other players into it, he scores goals.”
Newcastle can move a step closer to securing their Premier League status for another season when they host fellow strugglers Huddersfield Town on March 31, and Benitez will be hoping that Slimani is finally fit enough to feature in the matchday squad.