By Danny Wright

22nd May, 2017 | 3:08pm

Why Newcastle must sign this 88-cap international who is available for free

COMMENT By Danny Wright

Newcastle’s title-winning return to the Premier League was brilliant, but also had its glaring flaws.

One of those was a creative spark to link the midfield and attack and while Ayoze Perez did a decent job in the No 10 role, he has already shown that he isn’t quite up to top-flight standard yet.

One player who has been playing at the top level for a long time now is Keisuke Honda, who has recently revealed that he will be leaving AC Milan when his contract expires within a matter of weeks.

The 30-year-old has struggled for first-team football at the San Siro this term but he would still make a perfect addition in Rafa Benitez’s squad.

With 88 international caps with Japan to his name, Honda would be one of the most experienced squad members that the Magpies could have at their disposal in their return to the Premier League.

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Benitez has a great list of players currently to hand, but a wise head from an attacking midfield dynamo like Honda is exactly what the Spaniard needs to take the club up a level.

The former CSKA Moscow man can play on both wings and in the centre of the park and as he gets older, it’s not an unusual sight to see a wide man drift into a more pivotal role as their legs begin to slow.

When Perez has been sidelined this season, Newcastle have struggled to find a player to replace him an Mohamed Diame simply isn’t cut out for that role.

Owner Mike Ashley has given Benitez his full financial backing for the summer but that doesn’t mean he shouldn’t ignore a great player who is available for free.

Newcastle can really put themselves back among the greats in the next year and the acquisition of Honda can really kick-start what is bound to be an exciting summer.

In other Newcastle news, Claudio Ranieri has said where he thinks the Magpies will finish next season.

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