By Wayne Veysey

22nd Dec, 2016 | 4:10pm

Benitez stance on £15m interest in Newcastle fringe player - Guardian

By Harry Sykes

Rafael Benitez has no intention of selling Aleksandar Mitrovic in the January window, according to a report.

The Guardian claim the Newcastle manager intends to hold form in the face of strong interest in the Serbia international from Crystal Palace and Swansea.

It is said that Palace have indicated they would be willing to spend £15million to lure striker Mitrovic from St James’ Part next month.

But Benitez’s side are flying high in the Championship and their current stance is that they do not want to offload a player who could make a contribution to their promotion charge in the second half of the campaign.

Mitrovic is behind Dwight Gayle in the centre-forward pecking order at Newcastle and has been a fringe player for most of this season.

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The 22-year-old has started just four of the club’s 22 Championship matches and his record of five goals in all competitions compares unfavourably to Gayle’s tally of 17 in the league alone.

The Guardian report that should

Mitrovic made the move to St James’ Park from Belgian giants Anderlecht in the summer of 2015 for a fee of £13million.

The striker built up a reputation for being temperamental in his debut season at Newcastle with two red cards and five yellows from his forward position.

However, he did also manage to score nine goals in 36 appearances for the club as they suffered relegation from the Premier League.

Newcastle entered the Christmas period top of the Championship table, with 49 points from their 22 games.

Football Insider verdict:

Mitrovic must find a new club if he wants to be a first choice striker. There is little chance of him displacing Gayle any time soon and it appears that Benitez does not fully trust the temperamental Serb. On the face of it, £15m seems a sizeable fee for a fringe player at a Championship club but Mitrovic has a decent scoring record at Newcastle and, when he is on his game, can cause problems to even the most organised of defences. Newcastle are right to hold firm. For now. Mitrovic might have to be patient and wait until the summer to get his move.

In other Newcastle transfer news, the Toon are targeting this international attacker to replace departing 24-year-old.