The Newcastle United midfielder believes they can be immediately promoted but says they are way below the standard at which the club should be.
Newcastle United midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum has said, as quoted by the Chronicle, that although the club can achieve instant promotion from the Championship under Rafael Benitez, they should have established themselves as a top-eight Premier League club.
The Magpies were relegated for the second time in eight years this season after poor ownership decisions and the unsuccessful management of Steve McClaren left them in disarray.
Benitez launched a late revival in the final weeks of the season, with the club finishing the campaign with a six-match unbeaten run, but by then the damage was already done and the Tynesiders slipped out of the top flight.
Wijnaldum, who finished as Newcastle's top scorer with 11 goals from 38 Premier League matches, believes Benitez can lead the club back at the first attempt.
However, the Dutch international insists that the Magpies are not a club who should have to be involved in relegation battles at all, claiming that they should be finishing in the top eight and battling to break into the top six.
When asked if Benitez could secure an instant top-flight return for Newcastle, Wijnaldum replied, as quoted by the Chronicle: "Yes, of course. You see that Leicester are champions of the league, and who expected that at the beginning? Everything is possible, everything can happen.
"Of course [the club has huge potential] - you see the stadium and the fans. Even after we were relegated, the stadium was still full. I think this is a club that has to play for the first six, seven or eight places [in the Premier League]. This was way below the standard that the club must have."
Wijnaldum was signed by Newcastle for £14.5 million from PSV Eindhoven last summer, but with the 25-year-old one of the most high-profile and high-paid stars at the club, it remains to be seen whether his future will be in the Championship next season.