Benitez defends Mitrovic sale despite Newcastle's goal-scoring woes

The Serb has been in excellent form for Fulham since his summer move, whilst the goal-shy Magpies have struggled

Rafa Benitez has defended his decision to move on striker Aleksandar Mitrovic to Fulham, with the Serbian having made a blistering start to the new season whilst Newcastle have struggled for goals.

Mitrovic has netted six times in five games this season for club and country since making permanent his loan move to Craven Cottage, including four in the Premier League for the newly-promoted Cottagers, leading fans on Tyneside to question the wisdom of letting the forward go.

The Serb managed only 17 goals in 72 appearances for Newcastle after signing from Anderlecht in the summer of 2015 under the reign of Steve McClaren, but since joining up with Slavisa Jokanovic at Fulham has been rejuvenated, starring as the club were promoted back to the Premier League in May.

But in a week when Mitrovic added to his goal haul with two strikes in Serbia’s 2-2 draw with Romania, Benitez has stuck by his club’s transfer business which included the loan signing of Salomon Rondon from West Brom.

"He [Mitrovic] is doing well, he did well for Serbia, but Rondon was doing well for Venezuela,” he told Sky Sports .

"Each player has his own environment and they can do well in one team and maybe not as well in the other one.

“We have to make a decision in terms of what we needed and we knew what we needed, that's it, now we have to move forward.”

Newcastle sit in the Premier League bottom three, one point off the bottom, ahead of Saturday’s game against Arsenal at St James’ Park, and have scored just three goals this season – one fewer than Mitrovic has managed for his new side.

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Three of the Magpies' four strikers – Rondon, Ayoze Perez and new signing Yoshinori Muto – have failed to score, with the Spaniard Joselu the only one of Benitez’s forward options to have found the net in the Premier League. Dwight Gayle was loaned to West Brom in the summer and has started brightly in the Championship.

"It does not change my decision,” said Benitez. “I have to carry on with Ayoze Perez, Joselu, Yoshinori Muto and Rondon, that's it."