Despite Newcastle United riding high at the top of the Championship, there has been debate about the Rafa Benitez signings made last summer.

You pay your money and take your choice as to whether you believe them but the media stories centre around Mike Ashley allegedly not being happy about the value for money and quality, compared to the £50m spent.

Naturally the old ‘resale value’ phrase also gets a number of mentions.

With a host of players leaving St James Park for various reasons in summer 2016, Rafa Benitez obviously had to do major work in terms of bringing in his own transfer targets.

The press tales say Mike Ashley wants to take back overall control of the transfer process but what is the position with Rafa’s signings and whether he got value for money?

Looking at Tuesday night’s team and bench selection for starters…

Newcastle United team v Norwich:

Darlow, Yedlin, Lascelles, Clark, Dummett, Ritchie, Colback, Shelvey, Gouffran, Perez, Mitrovic

Subs:

Elliot, Hanley, Gamez, Hayden, Atsu, Diame, Gayle

Rafa Benitez bought 11 players and one on loan with a view to permanently signing (Atsu), these are the 12 brought in during summer 2016:

Atsu, Clark, Gayle, Gamez, Ritchie, Lazaar, Hanley, Yedlin, Hayden, Sels, Diame, Murphy

Tonight they can be split:

Selected: Clark, Yedlin, Ritchie

On the bench: Hanley, Gamez, Atsu, Hayden, Diame, Gayle

Didn’t make the squad: Sels, Lazaar, Murphy

Despite no reported injuries, only three of the 12 Rafa Benitez signings have been chosen to start v Norwich, with three not even making the matchday 18.

Interestingly, if Matz Sels and Rob Elliot had been selected amongst the substitutes, tonight’s entire bench would have been summer 2016 Rafa Benitez signings.

On the surface, that gives plenty ammunition for anybody who might think Mike Ashley has got a point in that, a lot of players have been signed who aren’t automatic first team players, never mind possible resale value etc.

However, Rafa has been at pains to say that the whole strategy of signing players last summer, was 100% focused on getting promotion.

Plus, the likes of Clark, Gayle, Ritchie and Yedlin are all clearly Premier League players. In addition, others such as Hayden, Atsu and Diame could also potentially do a job.

Mike Ashley has never been a fan of having a squad, seeing little value in having players sitting idle beyond the eleven on the pitch.

Is Rafa Benitez managing to educate the club’s owner that strength in depth is essential if you want success?

(All contributions from Newcastle fans welcome, send articles to [email protected])