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Are these 2 last ditch January signings really going to convince Rafa Benitez to stay at Newcastle United?

2 years ago
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Rafa Benitez has constantly said that he would wait and see what would happen in this transfer window, before deciding whether to sign a contract extension.

We have now reached day 28 of 31 and there are only some 87 hours remaining in which to sign players.

You would almost think there had been no intention from the very start to land any of the list of players Rafa Benitez had given Mike Ashley ahead of the window opening.

Surely the writing was on the wall once the first week or so of January went by with zero happening, if there was going to be any positive change in the owner’s pathetic stance of undermining Rafa Benitez, the squad and the fans, then surely work would have been done to ensure signings were lined up to come in and have the best chance of making a difference in as many matches as possible. Certainly in time for that key relegation clash with Cardiff on 19 January.

That game was thankfully won, but it was despite Mike Ashley, rather than with any kind of help for Rafa from the owner.

In these dying days/hours of this disastrous transfer window, two names are still being held up as likely signings.

Media that still slavishly give Mike Ashley positive coverage, suggesting that these potential signings could still convince Rafa Benitez to stay on, as supposedly a sign that the owner is showing he will back the manager with the signings he wants.

The first of the pair is midfielder Andreas Samaris and the midfielder is out of contract in the summer when he turns 30.

A £500,000 fee has been widely reported as being the figure for Newcastle to take him up to the end of the season. However, as we have already covered (see below) previously, Samaris has started once in the league for Benfica this season, only four times last season, then only nine the year before. He has been repeatedly named on the bench so not a case of long-term injuries and if he can’t get a game in the weak Portuguese league, then surely zero chance he could instantly step up to the standard of the Premier League, if ever.

As for the other widely reported target, 23 year old Antonio Barreca has only started seven Ligue 1 games this season, only one since September, and that was in October.

The left sided wing-back can’t get a game for Monaco who are second bottom of Ligue 1, whilst last season he only made three Serie A starts (regularly on bench, not injured) for a mediocre Torino side, before trying his luck in France to try and get a game.

Obviously as fans, you give any signings a chance and hope they will be up to the job, but in reality Newcastle are really scraping the barrel this time if this is the level of signing Rafa Benitez will be ‘backed’ with.

You sadly have to accept, Mike Ashley is as serious about selling Newcastle United or breaking the club’s 14 year old transfer record, as he is about convincing Rafa Benitez to stay on.

The Mag – 25 January 2019:

Six weeks ago an ‘exclusive’ reported that Newcastle were going to bring in Andreas Samaris.

That ‘exclusive’ came from The Mirror (see below), the only trouble being they have been running this ‘exclusive’ every transfer window since Rafa Benitez brought Newcastle back into the Premier League.

Difficult to see how the Greek international midfielder would be anywhere near good enough for what Newcastle need in these remaining months of this relegation fight.

Andreas Samaris has only started one league game this season in the weak Portuguese league, 95 minutes on the pitch in total in league matches, whilst last season he only managed four league starts and the year before it was nine.

Yet all along, just like Bas Dost, Andy Carroll, and many others, the stories just get dusted down and ran again with each subsequent transfer window.

Friday morning sees Sportime in Greece reporting that Newcastle United have made a loan offer until the end of the season, which would be effectively ending his time at Benfica, as his current contract ends then and there is zero chance of him being offered another one.

Difficult, yet again, to believe there is any truth in this. Although sadly you also at the same time can’t help but think that with such minimal/no support from Mike Ashley, even with loan deals, Rafa Benitez faces an all but impossible task to bring in obvious players who would be seen as good enough to come in and instantly be able to do a job in this relegation fight.

The Mag – 12 December 2018:

Less than three weeks to go now until the transfer window opens, with an ‘exclusive’ on Wednesday morning claiming Newcastle are going to go in and sign Andreas Samaris.

The ‘exclusive’ comes from The Mirror, who say that Newcastle are set to pick up a bargain.

The only problem is that the newspaper have been running this exclusive for some time.

Ever since Newcastle were promoted back in May 2017, The Mirror have been running exclusives saying Rafa Benitez is going to buy the Greek midfielder.

Back in June 2017 (see below), The Mirror ran an exclusive saying Newcastle were bringing in Andreas Samaris for £17.5m.

By the time we got to the last (summer 2018) transfer window they had Newcastle once again interested but £10m asking price allegedly put them off.

Now Rafa is supposedly set to land the midfielder for nothing…

The Mirror claim the player is a ‘firm fans’ favourite’ in Portugal.

A bit of a strange fans’ favourite when you look and see he hardly ever gets off the bench, in the last two and a half years he has only started 13 league matches and this campaign has only played five minutes as a sub in two brief league appearances.

Andreas Samaris turns 30 in June and it would be amazing if Benfica didn’t want to get him off their books as a free transfer in January because they clearly have no interest in playing him.

In these past two and a half seasons, Andreas Samaris has only contributed one goal and one assist in the league, so he wouldn’t exactly be helping Newcastle in that respect, if indeed this lame transfer saga had any real legs.

It is the start of the silly season and no doubt we’ll all be proved wrong when by the end of January, Andreas Samaris will be lining up for Newcastle with Bas Dost, Andy Carroll and the other host of players NUFC are linked with every single window…

The Mirror ‘Exclusive’ – 12 December 2018:

EXCLUSIVE: Benfica wanted £10m when Newcastle looked in the summer but Andreas Samaris will be cheaper as contract nears end

Newcastle are ready to go back in for Benfica’s Andreas Samaris when the transfer window reopens.

Rafa Benitez made a summer enquiry about Greece international Samaris, but the Portuguese giants’ £10million asking price put the Magpies off.

However, the 29-year-old is on course to be out of contract in Lisbon at the end of the season.

Samaris hopes to get a free transfer next month, and even if Benfica won’t agree to that his looming free agency means he’ll be significantly cheaper for Newcastle than he was in the summer.

Capped 33 times by his country, Samaris joined Benfica from Olympiakos back home in 2014 and has helped them win the title in all but one of his four seasons.

Despite being a firm fans’ favourite in Portugal, the holding midfielder has set his heart on a move to the Premier League.

The Mag – 23 June 2017:

Friday afternoon has seen an exclusive, reporting that Newcastle are set to pay 20m euros (approx £17.5m) to secure the services of Andreas Samaris.

The combative midfielder turned 28 earlier this month and plays his international football for Greece.

Andreas Samaris moved from Olympiakos to Benfica for 10m euros (just under £9m) in 2014, so if this deal did happen, it would see the Portuguese club double their money.

The exclusive comes from Newcastle United’s official media partner, The Mirror, and they say that Rafa Benitez has been working on this deal for the past six weeks, since the Championship season ended basically.

The Mirror report says that quite correctly, Andreas Samaris has helped Benfica win the domestic league title in each of the last three years he has been in Portugal.

However, he has had an ever diminishing involvement.

His first season (2014/15) saw 27 league starts and one appearance off the bench.

Then the second (2015/16) season saw a reduced 19 starts and eight from the subs bench.

Finally, last (2016/17) season Andreas Samaris started only nine league matches with another nine as a sub, sitting on the bench 21 times in total.

Also, if the midfielder did arrive, don’t expect goals to be his strength, Samaris has only scored twice in three years of league football in Portugal.

Difficult to put a price on any player’s head in this crazy transfer market but obviously Newcastle wouldn’t be getting one of Benfica’s best players here, so every chance that if the midfielder wasn’t signed, he wouldn’t create a new transfer record beating the £16m wasted on Michael Owen.

Also worth mentioning that despite being Newcastle United’s official media partner, past experience doesn’t suggest that they get value for money from their involvement, certainly not when it comes to getting privileged information.

The arrangement started with a very embarrassing pair of exclusives.

The Mirror claiming that Charlie Austin had signed for Newcastle, then following that up by stating as fact that Saido Berahino was also definitely signing for Newcastle…

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