Newcastle United currently find themselves in mid-table and relatively clear of a Premier League relegation scrap right now, though a few results could rapidly change the landscape at the foot of the table.
But if Steve Bruce wants to carry the Magpies forward next season and ensure that relegation is firmly out of his mind, first he will have to get rid of the deadwood.
And for that reason, here are three players the Magpies should cut loose in the summer transfer window.
The Japan international was brought in by Rafa Benitez back in August 2018 but it’s safe to say he has never hit the ground running or proved his worth at this level.
Throughout his stay, he has only mustered a total of 27 appearances, netting a paltry two goals in the process.
And that’s the problem with Muto – the 27-year-old seems out of his depth in the Premier League and is perhaps too lightweight to compete with the physicality of the English top flight, which is already reflected in his sub-standard goal tally.
This season, Muto has only played 344 minutes across all competitions and it seems unlikely that circumstances will suddenly change in the near future.
His current contract expires in 2022 and he’s actually the team’s second-highest earner with £2.8m per year. Needless to say, Muto is far too expensive given the lack of palpable impact he has on the team.
Dwight Gayle’s Championship form gave the Magpies hope that he would at last be able to translate that proficiency back into the Premier League.
But alas, it was not to be and the 29-year-old forward has been underwhelming since his return to the squad.
Back at West Bromwich Albion, he managed to score 24 goals and assist eight in just 41 games. Needless to say, that was a rather impressive return but it seems that the top-flight remains a level too high for the striker.
In 2019/20, he has only played 178 minutes across all competitions with no goals or assists to his name as of yet.
He’s currently earning £2.08m per year, which is money effectively being thrown down the drain – particularly considering the potential resale value on a striker of his potency in the second tier.
Atsu is another player who simply hasn’t met the standard that was expected of him back when he signed.
Ever since his arrival, his performances have been underwhelming and even though he does produce rare moments of brilliance, that’s not nearly consistent enough to matter in the long-run.
This season, for example, the 28-year-old winger has made 22 appearances across all competitions, tallying a total of 968 minutes and yet he has no goals to his name. He has, however, managed to muster four assists.
However, given the fact he’s on £1.56m per year, Bruce should think about offloading him this summer.
If the Magpies manage to find new clubs for the aforementioned trio, they could save £6.44m a year in wages.