With the season well and truly over now for Newcastle United, the speculation regarding next season is starting. The Toon faithful are already hanging on every word coming from the mouth of Rafael Benitez and now have got some of the players themselves coming out and stating their intentions. Some have done this in a very direct manner while some have done it in a sidelong glance kind of way.
Aleksandar Mitrovic flat out said yesterday that he hopes to be with the club as they try to return from The Championship next season. Mitro will, of course, be facing a four-match suspension thanks to the straight red card he received against Tottenham on the final day of the Premier League season.
Ayoze Perez has come out and expressed that he would like to stay with the team and fight for promotion. He specifically mentions "We need everybody to be together and be like a team". This could indicate that his future is tied to that of Benitez as the Spaniard's reign was the only time we remotely looked like anything resembling a team (and Rafa managed without the benefit of neurolinguistics!)
Tim Krul was less direct in stating his intentions, but has indicated with a statement tweeted today that he could be on board as well.
Tim of course presents an interesting situation. He is on relatively high wages while both of his backups (Rob Elliot, Karl Darlow) were forced to step in for significant chunks of the season and performed well. Even though he may be willing, if a decent offer comes in, we may see the end of Timmy's time on Tyneside.
This quote pulled from an interview with the club's official site seems to indicate that Chancel Mbemba is on board for the fight as well:
"We couldn't give up, even in the situation that we were in, and next season we're going to try really hard for [the fans]."
The CB pairing of Mbemba and Jamaal Lascelles had finally brought some stability to a position that has seen more than its fair share of struggles over the past several years. It would be very encouraging to "keep the band together" as it were as the Anita, Mbemba, Lascelles, Dummett back line was a large part of us having any chance to stay up by the time it hit the last couple weeks of the season.
There will be departures. You don't see Moussa Sissoko or Gini Wijnaldum standing up, raising a solemn hand and saying "We'll fix this". That's to be expected. As it stands, though, we've got a good start towards next season with the "verbal commits" we have above.