By Dominic Toner

Rafa Benitez has revealed that a good pre-season from Yoan Gouffran persuaded him to rejected a bid for the attacking midfielder.

Gouffran made just nine senior appearances throughout the whole of the 2015/16 season as Newcastle were relegated to the Championship, but has started the new campaign in fantastic form.

The Frenchman, 30, has scored two goals and added two assists in seven matches in all competitions this year and is a crucial part of the club’s promotion push.

Newcastle manager Benitez has said that he decided to keep Gouffran at the club after monitoring him in pre-season.

“I was happy with him during pre-season,” he told the Chronicle. “I was expecting some offers for him – we had one that was not good enough and after, I was expecting maybe no-one would come and I would be happy, so that was the situation.

“We were watching him closely and he was training really well and the staff, we were talking about it could be better to keep him, and that’s it. I am really pleased because when you have someone working so hard, he deserves some luck sometimes.”

Newcastle are attempting to seal an automatic return to the top-flight and are currently third in the table, with 15 points from eight games.

Gouffran faces a lot of competition for a starting position in the attacking role.

Team-mates Ayoze Perez, Christian Atsu, Matt Ritchie, Rolando Aarons and Mohamed Diame are all in contention for a starting role.

The Magpies were knocked out of the EFL Cup 2-0 by Wolves on Tuesday night in the third-round, meaning they will now be focused on their league aspirations.

In other Newcastle transfer news, the club are set to sign a playmaker for £10million in the January transfer window.