Rafa Benitez was once again let down by Mike Ashley in this latest transfer window.

The Manager making public that he had given the Newcastle United owner a list of transfer targets back in December, having done much of the preparation work himself on setting up deals.

Saying he wanted all signings to be made as early as possible, so that he would be able to work with them as soon as possible and make an impact in as many matches as possible.

When the transfer window opened, Newcastle still had 17 Premier League matches left to play.

One of the three loan deals that Rafa Benitez was allowed to make, was Islam Slimani.

Picking up an injury in training only days before the loan deal was completed, Slimani is set to have only 10 games at the very most to start and make an impact.

In recent days the striker has only been involved in parts of training, so at the very best he will be on the bench against Man Utd.

Then with Leicester one of the games remaining, that brings it down to 10 matches where he could possibly start.

However, on Friday, it was interesting to hear Islam Slimani already happy to talk about the possibility of making his move to Newcastle permanent in the summer.

This would be an interesting departure for Rafa Benitez if it did happen and apparent confirmation he is back fully in control of transfers.

The Summer saw the United boss make clear a number of times that he was looking to bring in experienced players to help keep Newcastle in the Premier League.

Rafa Benitez has also spoken often about it not being just about how much money he has to spend but being able to do the deals that he wants to do and making them quickly, to avoid too much competition from elsewhere.

Rafa of course didn’t get much backing in terms of the amount of cash he was allowed to spend in the summer (or indeed January) and that got most of the headlines.

However, it was also very noticeable, at least to me, that clearly any deals he’d set up for older (no/low chance of any future profit) players were not followed through by Mike Ashley and his minions.

Short-term high wage deals for the likes of veteran keepers Pepe Reina and Willy Caballero were amongst the most public targets that Rafa wasn’t allowed to bring in.

Instead we had Murphy (22 when signed), Atsu (25), Lejeune (26), Manquillo (23) and Merino (21), before finally the desperate £5m budget deal for 27 year old Joselu when it became clear to Rafa that he wasn’t going to be properly backed by Ashley.

Islam Slimani cost £27m only 18 months ago and whilst he will go for lower than that this summer, he is still likely to command a fee of somewhere around Newcastle’s transfer record of £16m (set 13 years ago…).

Islam Slimani will also be 30 years old when the summer transfer window opens.

So if both Mike Ashley and Rafa Benitez are still at Newcastle and Islam Slimani was signed, you would be looking at a £16m fee or maybe more for a player you’d be unlikely to get anything back on, or very little, as well as him becoming Newcastle’s highest earner (as a minimum would have to match his Leicester wages) on at least a four year contract.

That very definitely wouldn’t fit in with the transfers Mike Ashley has allowed in recent times. Yes both Gamez and Murphy were signed but both were given short-term contracts and cost very little to bring in, minimal compared to what say Slimani would cost.

This is reality though, if Rafa Benitez is to bring in anything like the quality needed, if Newcastle stay up, then he has to be allowed to wheel and deal and a big part of that must be bringing in better class older players who there won’t be any future profit on.

Islam Slimani asked if he could move permanently to Newcastle in the Summer:

“Yes, I’m just on loan at the minute but if I could stay here, I’d be very happy.

“So let’s see how it goes.

“The big difference is that he (Rafa Benitez) trusts me and when you have the trust of your coach, that is very important.

“They trusted me at Leicester, it’s not that I wasn’t trusted.

“I started well there but then I was dogged by bad health and injuries.”

To feature like Dean Wilkins submit your article to [email protected] and/or for more info go here



  • mactoon

    You seem to forget Slimani wasn’t his first choice striker, both Jorgensen and Sturridge were approached first and the fact that Jorgensen’s price wasn’t met it would appear that Rafa doesn’t have much say in who comes in?

    I doubt Ashley would spend any money on a club he may not own in the summer

    • Mitros gotta start

      He wouldnt put money in if he had no intention of selling it either….you couldnt pull a needle out of the fat slugs 4RSE with a tractor…..tighter than a camels 4RSE in a sandstorm

      • Blackburn1066

        No,No, It’s tighter than that.

    • Blackburn1066

      The little fat shop keeper is killing our club, some fans have a problem getting to grips with that.

  • Leazes.

    Ashley made it pretty clear two days ago….. no more signings at all while he is owner. Loan deals only. He’s said he wasn’t going to approve spending on a club that he doesn’t care for.

    There isn’t a genuine buyer, so Ashley will continue in this fashion, and the Chairman will hide from the local press and fans.

    Any speculation is in order to fill pages of newspapers as has been the case from day one with this owner.

    Benitez will be aware of this, and I can’t see him wanting to start taking the flak for this nonsense.

    • Blackburn1066

      That’s spot on Leazes, The little fat Tw-t and all his army up stairs are to blame for the mess we are in. After all he is nothing but a street trader , a dell boy, who the fans, ( the true fans) should hate and wish his departure.

  • FatParosite

    Why would Rafa want the permanent signing of Slimani when he was his fourth or fifth choice? On the other hand If Slimani is successful here he will be made to fit back in at Leicester. This article seems to be moot.

  • MichaelMaximusMoose

    Mad Mike`s in charge of transfers. he`s the 1 with the money

  • thewildchimp

    Why would you hire a 30 year old player, plagued by injuries, for at least 3 years, as your top earner? That would be stupid. If he turns out to be good – loan him for another year.

    • Blackburn1066

      He comes cheap!

  • Rich Lawson

    Shall we see how he plays first please ?

  • Leazes.

    Dean….What do you mean ‘Rafa Benitez is back in full control of transfers’

    Rafa has never had control over signings despite Mark Douglas’s ridiculous claims. He can draw up a list which will be ignored, anyone can do that….Pardew and McClarren could do that.

    Do you see a Benitez squad taking shape after two years…. I don’t!

    • Martin Rooney

      Don’t know much about Rafa then. His football has always been based on a defensive approach, which is exactly what he has bought.

    • Blackburn1066

      The only one with shape in the summer is Amanda. I hope.

  • kingfisher

    I’m willing to bet that Slimani doesn’t play anywhere near 10 games.Not only is he carrying an injury, but as he’s our main goascorer, he’ll be targeted by defenders and given some rough treatment.If he plays more than 5/6 games, I’ll be surprised.He could be a supersub and used in the second half if things are not going our way.
    Hope I’m wrong, but this signing smacks of desperation.

    • Jezza

      I can guarantee he’ll be on a pay per play deal the same as the one they gave to an injured Stephen Ireland when he signed on loan in 2011.

      • kingfisher

        Yes Jez,and we all know how that turned out! 🤣

      • mentalman

        Your making a lot of guarantees with nothing to back it up unless your part of the regime

        • Jezza

          You’re not your.

          • mentalman

            Thank you for pointing out a grammatical error the auto correct on my phone made rather than discussing the point raised.

    • Blackburn1066

      Yes that’s NUFC desperation

  • Jezza

    I guarantee that Slimani will not be at Newcastle beyond the summer and sadly neither will Rafa.

    • mentalman

      You guaranteed that kenedy was the only token signing we would make in january

      • Jezza

        He would have been but for Rafa’s desperate last minute pleas to Fatso on the day before the deadline.

  • Ram Kishore

    In your dreams pal.. Why would Reina and willy Caballero move to Newcastle when they are playing for the title at Napoli and Chelsea..
    Slimani is just giving a scripted interview

    • Cabellero was willing to come here, because he was going to be N. 1, not a sub. Reina never looked like happening because we would have had to pay 15m or more. While Kenedy may stay (now that Chelsea bought Emerson) we will never sign Slimani unless he scores like 7-8 goals and keeps us up which I highly doubt with our service.

      • Ram Kishore

        Did u know for sure that Caballero was gonna come?
        I thought that was just another media speculation?
        If Rafa wanted him..I would say it was a bad call

  • Andrew

    None story
    Will be gone when we go down
    Mr Ashley made a very big mistake by not backing the manager at the start of the season & now I think it’s to little to late. We could have been 9 points better off if we had a striker in the summer. Just cannot see where our 3 points will come from. Now relying on the teams bellow us to slip up.
    Sure I’ve been here before.
    Thanks Mike

    • MadMag83

      My feelings entirely mate. Ashley has gambled and decided against cashing out when Staveley made her offer, now he stands to wipe millions off the value of the club.

  • Thefootballerwhocouldfly

    Slimani will not be joining us as Ashley will not pay the odds. Merino will be sold to Atletico regardless of whether we stay up or be relegated. Nothing will change under Ashley. #AshleyOut

    • MadMag83

      I think it’s Athletic Bilbao that want Merino, not Atletico Madrid.

  • Andrew

    After the Man United result could I be wrong???
    Well done keeper