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Mike Ashley ‘reluctant’ to allow Rafa Benitez to buy any players unless manager signs new contract this month – Telegraph

3 months ago
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Ahead of the summer 2018 transfer window, it was widely reported that Mike Ashley was refusing to give Rafa Benitez any transfer funds, unless the manager signed a contract extension.

How we laughed, never heard such a ridiculous media claim, even Ashley wouldn’t stoop that low.

That is, until the laughing stopped just ahead of the Premier League season kicking off.

Not only did Mike Ashley refuse to give the manager any of the Premier League funds generated by Rafa Benitez leading the club straight back into the top tier, the owner also insisted on making a profit of over £20m on transfer deals in and out. Rafa not even allowed to spend the transfer cash he was generating via sales.

Aleksandar Mitrovic sold for £22m (rising to £27m) but only £2m for loan player Salomon Rondon allowed to be spent from the sale to Fulham.

Whilst Mikel Merino left for £10m and only free transfer Ki Sung-yeung allowed to be brought in with that money to strengthen the midfield.

Plenty talk ahead of this January 2019 transfer window, about Mike Ashley being happy to smash the 14 year old club transfer record on Miguel Almiron and other players also supposedly set to be signed. However, only a week to go now until the window closes and the club are said to be even struggling to bring in loan signings.

To make matters worse, Mike Ashley even had the audacity to sanction a club reply to a question posed by the official NUFC Fans Forum in September, where he claimed he had been willing to break the £16.8m Michael Owen record fee on any number of Rafa Benitez’ transfer targets, only for none of these players wanting to come…the owner then revealed to have taken millions out of the club when the summer 2018 transfer window closed.

Moving forward to the present day and The Telegraph have provided this overview of how things currently stand

‘The Spaniard has made up his mind that he will quit at the end of the season if he is not backed this month with new signings.

…with the club reluctant to sanction permanent deals because of Benitez’s refusal to sign a contract extension.’

We might not have believed that even Mike Ashley would be that ridiculous in the summer to block any budget being made available but it appears crystal clear now, despite the club being involved in a desperate relegation fight as we speak.

Nothing should ever really be a surprise though when it comes to the NUFC owner, he refused to allow Rafa Benitez the chance to sign any players in January 2017, then in January 2018 it was only loan signings allowed.

Surely the really big surprise will be if Ashley allows any player to be bought in these last few remaining days of January.

Rafa Benitez has repeatedly said that he would wait and see what happened in this January 2019 transfer window before making definite decision on his future.

With not a single one of his transfer targets arriving, nobody can doubt what the logical conclusion will be at the end of the season.

Even if any player(s) arrived in these last few January days, the very earliest they would be involved would surely not be until the Wolves away game on Monday 11 February, after which there are only 12 more Premier League matches.

It is Watford in the FA Cup on Saturday, then Man City at home on Tuesday, which would mean any new signing would probably only get a chance to train next Thursday and Friday at the most, ahead of Spurs away on Saturday 2 February.

With Rafa’s meticulous planning, he is very much against throwing players straight in until they have been properly brought up to speed in training with what he wants. Which is exactly why he wants signings made ASAP each window, something which Mike Ashley has repeatedly blocked.

If you are a pessimist/realist then you will think the situation concerning Rafa Benitez staying on is hopeless, even the optimist optimists amongst you will think the situation is all but hopeless.

After some two and a half years of having to put up with nonsense, why would Rafa, or any Newcastle fans, think suddenly things are going to change in the next week?
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