Jacob Murphy arrived at St James’ Park in 2017 labelled as a star of the future, but so far, things have not gone according to plan.

Shipped out to West Brom on loan in January, having struggled to make an impact at Newcastle, he scored twice in nine starts at the Hawthorns.

It is fair to say he did not excite Albion fans in the way Dwight Gayle did.

With the Baggies spurning the chance to sign Gayle permanently, it seems doubtful that they will move for Murphy.

(Photo by Matthew Ashton – AMA/Getty Images)

So where does that leave the 24-year-old?

The answer to that, like everything else at Newcastle currently, largely depends upon the future of Rafa Benitez.

Having signed for a large fee, Rafa – should he stay – will not want to give up on the winger yet. But that may mean sending him out on loan again next season, in the hope of him finding his feet.

He could, of course, be given the chance to prove himself during pre-season with Newcastle, before any decision is made.

Time is running out for Murphy at Newcastle

Either way, it seems to be now or never for Murphy, with this season being his last chance saloon.

Rafa’s decision to revert to using wing-backs as his preferred formation did not help Murphy’s cause. Add to that the players in front of him, and the subsequent addition of Miguel Almiron, and his chances receded further.

(Photo by Robbie Jay Barratt – AMA/Getty Images)

Loaning him out seemed like the perfect scenario for all concerned. But his failure to shine has seen him return with more questions than answers.

Another season away from Tyneside is the likely outcome, with a keen eye being kept on his progress. But should he be unable showcase his abilities consistently, it is likely he has already played his last game in a Toon shirt.

The worry, as ever, is that he could come back to bite the club, by excelling somewhere else. It is a chance that the club have to take, however, as even Rafa’s patience can only last so long.

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