Aleksandar Mitrović arrived at Newcastle United claiming he wanted to play like Alan Shearer.

But 22 seconds into his debut he was booked and 20 days later, he was sent off in the 15th minute of a 1-0 home defeat to Arsenal for a foul on Francis Coquelin.

The Magpies would have known about his rash side before he arrived at St James’ Park.

Yes, he scored 44 goals in his two seasons at Anderlecht, but during that time he also picked up two red cards and 19 yellows.

His two campaigns at Newcastle have seen him get slightly fewer cards – two reds and eight yellows – but he has scored just 15 goals too.

The Serbian is, according to reports, a Besiktas transfer target. With that in mind we'd taken a look at whether it’s time for the Magpies to let the striker go.

Mitrović v Newcastle’s striking options

We’ve had a look at Mitrović’s statistics in the Championship last season, compared to the two other forwards who started the most for Rafa Benítez’ side – Dwight Gayle and Daryl Murphy – as well as Newcastle transfer target Tammy Abraham.

Mitrovic vs Newcastle strikers

Notably, for a goalscorer, the Serbian only got four goals in 25 appearances.

As the Magpies dropped into the second tier of English football, you would have hoped a £13million buy would grab some goals, but that wasn’t the case.

Even Benítez addressed his lack of goals in February, saying: “The only way to change things is to go on the pitch and do better. He needs to go out and prove he can do it.”

Abraham, at Bristol City, got 23 league goals, Gayle scored 22 and Murphy five – all more than Mitrović.

He didn’t spend as much time on the pitch as Abraham or Gayle, but his goals per 90 minutes ratio was also the lowest of the quartet, at 0.34.

Gayle led the way, with 0.93.

The Serbian did have the most shots per 90 minutes, though, averaging 4.35, but as he scored just 0.34, that works out at just 7.81 per cent of his efforts going in.

That isn’t really good enough for a striker.

At 40 per cent, his shot accuracy tells a story too. That’s the lowest of the quartet, with Abraham averaging 45 per cent, Murphy 60 per cent and Gayle 68 per cent.

But it is worth pointing out that he does create on average 1.88 chances per 90 minutes, higher than Abraham (1.11), Gayle (1.06) and Murphy (0.77).

Time for a reluctant departure?

In an interview with The Daily Telegraph last year, Mitrović admitted he is not always easy to manage.

“My father said I would be a criminal or a kick boxer,” he said, when asked what he would be doing without football.

“I don’t know what I would do if I didn’t play football. Maybe something where I can use my adrenalin.

“Maybe something like boxing. I had a lot of energy when I was a child. I was difficult for my parents.”

The best footballers often do live on the edge – Paul Gascoigne for example.

And while Mitrović doesn’t appear to have got up to Gazza-style jinks yet, or even those of Mario Balotelli, there is always a risk when having someone as volatile around.

He admits Benítez has had a calming effect on him, adding: “I listen to what the manager has to say.

“He’s a big name and a big coach and you can learn a lot from him. You can learn a lot even if you don’t play.”

Newcastle fans won’t want to think about this at the moment, but what happens if Benítez leaves?

The next manager may not be able to control him so well.

It’s a similar situation with Chelsea, Antonio Conte and Diego Costa, although Mitrović isn’t scoring as many goals as the Spain international.

Perhaps the Premier League is better suited to the 22-year-old given he scored a respectable nine goals in his first year at Newcastle, in England’s top flight.

Abraham's impending arrival only pushes him further down the pecking order as the Blues will want guarantees of first-team football for their highly-rated young talent.

So the time seems right to let Mitrović leave, with disappointment of course.

He has a connection with Newcastle, adding in his Telegraph interview: “It has been my favourite club ever since I was small boy in Serbia. I have followed Newcastle my whole life.

“I had two Newcastle shirts when I was little. It was unusual, most people choose a team like Manchester United or Barcelona, but for me, it has always been Newcastle.

They played against Partizan Belgrade [in the Champions League] when I was small. I don’t know, there was something here I really liked. It was the passion, the relationship between the fans and the players.”

But for someone who has failed to live up to expectations and is falling down the pecking order, while Besiktas can offer him Champions League football, and you’d imagine Newcastle would recoup the fee they paid for him, it seems like a good deal all round – albeit one that could leave tinges of regret.

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