Michael Owen has claimed that Rafael Benitez's decision to sell Newcastle United's strikers is one that could come back to haunt him this season.

The Spanish manager saw Aleksander Mitrovic join Fulham on a permanent transfer following a loan deal last season, and Dwight Gayle leave St. James' Park on loan to West Bromwich Albion.

Owen noted how the decision now looks unwise considering Newcastle's current form, telling BBC 5Live Sport: “They’re not playing well, they’re not scoring goals, they’ve lost a couple of players who did score goals.

“That’s probably biting Rafa in the backside a little bit. But you’d have to say that, they had a really poor start to the season last season and they gradually got themselves out of it."

The former Magpies striker added: “They got to a respectable position, so you have to trust Rafa to do that again.”

In Mitrovic and Gayle's places came Salomón Rondon and Yoshinori Muto, but the two forwards have struggled to make an impact on their new club following summer moves from West Brom and Mainz respectively, scoring just a single goal between them.


Meanwhile, the former duo have made excellent starts to life at their new clubs. Mitrovic has established himself as Fulham's main marksman with five league goals and Gayle is the Baggies' joint top scorer with eight goals in the EFL Championship.

That certainly rubs salt in the wounds of Newcastle fans, who have seen their team score just seven goals in all competitions so far. Benitez's men face a tricky match against Southampton on Saturday.