Journalist John Richardson has covered sport for the past 30 years and has ‘Known Rafa Benitez for quite a few years’.
John is also a big Newcastle fan and regularly comments on what is happening at the club.
Using his Twitter account in the aftermath of the win over Hellas Verona, Richardson has followed up the post-match comments of Rafa Benitez, where the United boss made clear he wasn’t happy with the transfer activity so far.
The longstanding journalist says that Rafa is now ‘at breaking point’ over the lack of quality signings and ‘ready to walk…unless he brings in the players he wants’.
The pair had a long conversation after the recent friendly at Preston (a 1-1 draw on Saturday 22 July), where Rafa Benitez made clear the need for better players to be brought in.
In the 16 days since that chat, Newcastle have only added the inexperienced (only two career starts in the top tier of any country) 21 year old Mikel Merino on loan – with a view to a permanent move.
Rafa has made clear in the media that he wants a number of further signings, which definitely includes a striker and a goalkeeper.
With Daryl Murphy sold and Dwight Gayle having issues with his hamstring once again – which has led to the number nine playing only 30 minutes of the last three friendlies and sitting out the last two altogether, this has left Aleksandar Mitrovic as the only fit striker available. Prompting Rafa to desperately experiment with the likes of Diame, de Jong, Perez and Ritchie as possible stand-ins/false number nines.
However, John Richardson has revealed that the manager has been desperate to off load Newcastle’s number 45, stating ‘Rafa can’t believe Mitro is still there’.
No great surprise really, as Benitez only started Mitrovic in one of the final seven games that decided Newcastle’s relegation fate, then only 11 starts in 46 Championship matches.
In the circumstances he finds himself in now, Richardson concedes that Rafa is now stuck with Mitrovic at least for the time being, with no other strikers at the club apart from Dwight Gayle with injury/fitness worries.
Certainly, if Mike Ashley doesn’t allow Rafa Benitez to bring in a striker in the very near future, it will be a massive cause for concern.
Sports correspondent (and Newcastle fan) John Richardson:
“Been saying all summer that Rafa Benitez has become increasingly frustrated at Newcastle United over the transfer policy. He is now at breaking point.
“Ready to walk…unless he brings in the players he wants.
“Spoke to him at length after the recent Preston friendly.
“Rafa can’t believe Mitro is still there.”
Fan asks ‘You think he still wants to sell his only fit striker before we can even buy a replacement?!’
“Not at the moment no but he doesn’t fancy him at all.”