As far as bad starts to the season go, Newcastle United midfielder Isaac Hayden is up there suffering with the worst.
The 23-year-old kicked off his summer putting in a transfer request at St. James' Park, citing personal reasons. No move transpired, and since then he has featured twice in the Premier League campaign, to dismal results.
Hayden was thrown into his first Premier League game of the season against Cardiff after injuries forced him to join the fray as a half-time substitute - only for the former Hull City loanee to quickly earn his marching orders for a reckless challenge.
His other appearance this season came in Newcastle's last match against Arsenal - Hayden's former club (not that he made a senior appearance for them) - where he got a surprise start. He certainly didn't take the chance, being seen as lethargic and non-existent for large parts of the game in the eyes of the fans.
With fans frustrated, a manager likely baffled by what to do with him and a player seemingly still longing to be elsewhere, there is likely only one solution for Hayden.
He needs to move on. The only way the 23-year-old rescues his rapidly imploding career is away from Tyneside, hopefully in greener pastures for the player.
It would likely require a drop down in level, possibly to the Championship - possibly even to a lower level as a stop-gap - but it might just be necessary.
From watching Hayden since he arrived in July 2016, it has become clear to most Newcastle fans that Hayden is probably never going to be a top-quality Premier League player. He can function well enough as a backup and as emergency cover, but his true level is likely more closely matched to the second tier.
Benitez had been unwilling to sell the Englishman in the summer, likely on account that his squad was already threadbare, but Hayden clearly still wants to leave.
His mind doesn't seem to be on Newcastle at the moment, and that never works out well for a player.
During the summer, Hayden explained his transfer request at the end of the previous season had come because of family reasons, and that he still hoped he could leave.
He told the Shields Gazette: “The club know my stance. I spoke to them at the start of the summer. I spoke to the manager, I spoke to the club.
“I let them know about the situation. I’ve done my bit for the club. I helped the club get promoted and I helped the club stay in the Premier League last season."
Obviously, he didn't leave.
However, the way he speaks about the club just shows his head's gone. At least in his mind, he's already left Newcastle. He's put a full stop at the end of his Magpies' career - speaking as if he's done enough to be entitled an exit from the club.
If that's the mentality that the player has - and gives the perceived lethargy on the pitch against Arsenal, it stands to reason he does - then there is little purpose in keeping him around.
It's unlikely Newcastle would ever have recouped a significant transfer fee for Hayden anyway, so it might be worth simply cutting their losses and letting him go.
It leaves the Magpies a little bit short on numbers in midfield, but they could cope. Benitez kept young midfielder Sean Longstaff around this summer, rather than sending him out on loan as had been the plan.
Having a young, hungry star ready to take any chance he can get is far more useful than a want away midfielder who already looks like he's giving up trying for the club.
I understood every selection except Hayden. The lad doesn't want to be here.— Jack (@Jaaack_NUFC) September 15, 2018
Sure, Hayden is marginally the better footballer at this stage to Longstaff, but Newcastle face a tough season ahead of them. They need every one of those players who step out onto the pitch to be willing to give their absolute all for the badge.
Hayden doesn't look even remotely close to willing to do that. He only seems committed to biding his time until he can get his exit - so he might as well be given it by the club.