It is now two months since Rafa Benitez secured Premier League safety for Newcastle United.
A run of form that kicked off in mid-February saw United win five of seven games with only one defeat, including victories at St James Park over Man Utd and Arsenal, as well as a win at Leicester.
With the target reached so early, Newcastle fans were expecting that to allow the club to get a real head start in both planning for next season and reaching agreement with Rafa Benitez for an extended stay.
Whilst talks were started back in mid-April with the manager’s representatives, Rafa regularly updated us with the news that these talks with Mike Ashley’s representatives had gone nowhere.
The manager looking for assurances on transfer budget and freedom to use it as he sees fit, as well as a commitment to investing in the academy and the substandard training facilities, rather than it being a case of demanding extra cash for himself.
Whilst these talks were reportedly still going on, Newcastle supporters hoped for other signs that the club were moving towards Rafa’s position, with early summer transfer moves the obvious one.
In all four previous transfer windows, Rafa Benitez had made clear each time he had looked to tie up some deals early, to get players in early to avoid a bidding war, as well as giving them as much time to settle in as possible.
However, there has been little sign of any transfer buzz surrounding Newcastle United and now the Shields Gazette have revealed that their information is, that Rafa Benitez is unhappy with both the lack of action on transfer and the action/commitment needed from Mike Ashley that would convince him to sign a contract extension.
The signing of Martin Dubravka was of course very welcome but even Mike Ashley would have seen this one as a no-brainer, plus there would have been a clock ticking.
Last May (2017) it was revealed that Christian Atsu’s year long loan with a £6m buying clause, gave Newcastle only so many days after the end of the season to activate that permanent deal price.
With Dubravka you can only assume it was the same, indeed in an interview over in Slovakia, the keeper revealed that he was expecting his Newcastle future to be definitely sorted before his loan deal ran out on 31 May 2018. No doubt an indication that the £4m buying clause had to be activated by then, or else the price would surely rocket after the form he had shown in the Premier League.
Newcastle announced the signing on 30 May, 24 hours before the loan deal ended.
It is inconceivable surely that Rafa Benitez wouldn’t be pushing for other signings at this early stage and last summer he revealed his frustrations after putting loads of personal work into setting up very early deals for the likes of Tammy Abraham and Willy Caballero, only for Mike Ashley to stall on allowing them to happen.
It is exactly four weeks from today until the Newcastle squad return for pre-season and whilst nobody is panicking, the next signing is awaited with high interest.
If a contract extension had been agreed with Rafa Benitez then of course that would have been a game-changer – but it hasn’t.
On this occasion, no news is definitely not good news.