Mitrovic, now at Fulham, hardly found favour under the Spanish tactician during his Toon days. But he has been bang on form since joining the Cottagers on loan in January and, having made his deal a permanent one, things haven’t changed a bit.
The forward scored 12 goals in 20 Championship outings to help Fulham seal promotion earlier this year. And he’s already scored four times from his first four games in the current Premier League campaign.
It was rumoured that the player did not get along well with Benitez, who ultimately saw to it that he left St James’ Park. However, the former Liverpool and Chelsea boss has described Mitrovic as “a professional” whom he never had a problem with.
“I didn’t have any problem with him. He was a professional. He’s a nice lad, and that’s it.
“He was very clear (and said) ‘the way that I play, maybe, is not the way we have to play’. In another environment, in another division (last season), and now with confidence, fine, he’s doing well. He’s in another team and it’s totally different.”
Mitrovic has also admitted that both he and the manager knew he wasn’t suited to the former’s counter-attacking style of play, given his limited mobility. But he claims to have left the club on good terms.
“Benitez plays defence and counter-attack,” he explained. “I tried to give my best, but it wasn’t me. “I was just running and getting in the team shape. He told me what he wanted, and I tried, but I am 90 kilos, and if I run so much defensively I have no power left when I’m in the box. He knew I couldn’t play in that style, and I felt it too.
“Benitez is a great person, and in the end I shook his hand.”