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Newcastle players should feel same passion as fans - Benitez

Rafa Benitez has played down suggestions that Newcastle United is being used as a stepping stone for bigger clubs.

The likes of Moussa Sissoko and Georginio Wijnaldum left St James' Park for Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool respectively in the summer transfer window which prompted suggestions that perhaps the Magpies are being used as a tool for players to show their wares.

But Benitez, who has assembled a squad capable of gaining immediate promotion back to the Premier League, does not agree.

"We are only interested in bringing players to Newcastle who want to work hard for the club and the team, not players who want to be at another club maybe next year or the year after," Benitez told Newcastle's official website.

"We are not a stepping stone, we are Newcastle United. Every player should be honoured to wear the shirt of this club. They should feel the same passion that the fans feel."

Benitez added: "Fans will know that sometimes the team spirit was not strong last season and that was part of the problem why we got relegated.

"A group of individuals with a lot of talent does not make a good team. Our priority has been to build a strong team with good character, mentality and also talent."

Andrew Slevison
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Andrew Slevison

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