Newcastle facing exodus of top stars after shock exit of Rafa Benitez

AYOZE PEREZ is one of several stars doubting their Newcastle future after Rafa Benitez’s exit.

The Toon were yesterday drawing up a shortlist to replace Benitez, with Manchester City No2 Mikel Arteta under consideration.

But the new boss could inherit a depleted squad, with last season’s 13-goal top-scorer Perez mulling over a move back to Spain.

Defender Federico Fernandez criticised the club’s handling of Benitez’s contract saga and is now open to offers.

While sought-after centre-half Fabian Schar and keeper Martin Dubravka would also listen to an approach.

Midfielder Isaac Hayden wants to leave for family reasons.

But it is the prospect of Perez, 25, going which Toon chiefs fear the most — with the striker having admitted a lot depended on what happened with Benitez.

Not all players are mourning their manager’s departure and SunSport understands some had grown tired of his training and tactics.

Yet many are now waiting to see where they stand under whoever comes in, with all business at the club having been on hold so far this summer.

REPLACING RAFA

Toon managing director Lee Charnley has started searching for a new boss and would ideally like someone in before pre-season starts a week tomorrow.

He has been inundated with agents pushing forward their clients — despite the uncertainty of the club’s future ownership.

Charnley has so far made no approaches but SunSport understands Arteta is one name in the frame.

Pep Guardiola’s right-hand man, 37, came close to the Arsenal job last summer and has earned glowing praise for his work.

Arteta would also be popular among Newcastle’s Spanish-speaking contingent.

Charnley wants to appoint a boss who can accept less control on transfers and be easier to work with than Benitez, following a toxic three years as he clashed with owner Mike Ashley.

Burnley boss Sean Dyche has admirers at St James’ Park but would be expensive to prise away from Turf Moor.

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While ex-Feyenoord boss Giovanni van Bronckhorst is among those to declare their interest in the vacancy.

The Dutchman’s agent, Guido Albers, said last night: “If a club like Newcastle has an opportunity to work for them, then he would be interested in doing that.

“It is, of course, an amazing club with an amazing fanbase.”



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