Rafa Benitez set up a loan deal to bring Tammy Abraham to Newcastle United early in the summer, even on his (Rafa’s) wedding anniversary he chose to go and see the Chelsea forward in person to persuade him to come to St Jame Park for the season.
Having done everything but write the cheque, Rafa Benitez left the paperwork to be done, only for Mike Ashley to block the deal.
Friday saw Mike Ashley choose to put out quotes saying Newcastle/Ashley haven’t got the money to pay £200m for a Neymar.
A bit like asking your dad for a new bike and being told how can you expect him to afford to get you a Ferrari?
Ashley’s quotes were timed almost immediately after Rafa Benitez couldn’t have spelt it out more clearly: ‘It…is…obvious…that…we…need…a…striker’.
The bottom line is that Newcastle can’t afford a Neymar but they can afford an Abraham…and many more deals in between.
Rafa Benitez makes clear that he rates Dwight Gayle after his 23 Championship goals last season but quite rightly has two big worries.
The United boss saying yesterday ‘we have to see if he can replicate something similar in the Premier League’.
This also follows yet another recurring hamstring issue for the striker who has been plagued by them and ‘confidence’ issues in recent years, which restricted him to only 26 starts last season, including only five of the final 20 Championship matches.
Gayle missed the final two friendlies of pre-season due to these hamstring/confidence problems and only played 30 minutes of the third last one. He should be in the squad for Spurs but there is surely no chance of him starting you would think.
Rafa Benitez yesterday made clear he is desperate to bring in players, particularly a striker, who ‘will improve the team’. He is aiming for clearly somebody who is better than Gayle or at least on that level, surely a forward who he will see as capable of playing alongside Dwight Gayle as well as instead of if necessary.
The manager then even admits though, that he is realistic, and even if this proves impossible he needs at the very least a striker (and players for other positions) who improve the squad.
It doesn’t take a genius to work out that Rafa is desperate to bring in a striker who is at least better than Mitrovic, the Serbian who only started one of the final seven games that decided Newcastle’s 2015/16 relegation and then a sparse 11 Championship matches last season.
Rafa Benitez is bending over backwards to show that he isn’t expecting the earth, just minimal backing to try and help ensure this season isn’t a total disaster.
“If you see the squad, it is obvious that we need a striker.
“We needed to bring some players in some positions to have competition.
“Dwight was doing really well last year but it is another level and we have to see if he can replicate something similar in the Premier League – we need competition in each position.
“Not just because they will be better, but we need bodies, you have to be sure that you have enough quality to keep the level.
“I said before and I am not hiding anything, I’m not happy…but I know we are in this position and we will try to improve until the end of the transfer window, with the players that we can get.
“If we can bring in a more expensive player, we will do it. If we cannot, (then we’ll get) another one and make sure they can give us something different.
“Hopefully they will improve the team – but at least they will improve the squad.”