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Mike Ashley won’t allow Rafa Benitez to buy Salomon Rondon – The maths just don’t add up

6 months ago
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Salomon Rondon is looking increasingly likely to be where Rafa Benitez is drawing his line in the sand.

The Newcastle manager was not allowed to even make an offer to buy the striker (only a loan allowed and that dependent on Gayle going in the other direction), with Mike Ashley reported to be refusing to entertain the idea of paying a sizeable fee for a striker who was set to turn 29 (in September 2018).

This despite the sale of Aleksandar Mitrovic to Fulham in a deal worth £22m, rising to £27m.

As we move on towards the end of the season, battle lines are being drawn.

Mike Ashley is said to want to return to a rigid transfer policy whereby players of no more than 25 years of age are targeted, ensuring there is a chance of them increasing in value, or at the very least retain their value.

Rafa Benitez on the other hand, naturally wants the freedom to buy and sell players based on what is needed for his team squad, both now and moving forward.

Many times in the past, Rafa has made clear that this freedom to wheel and deal as he sees fit, is at least as important as to how big the actual budget is for bringing in new signings.

Salomon Rondon ticks all of the boxes for the manager as a player top of the list for him to sign this summer but seemingly doesn’t tick anything for the owner.

The loan striker has been excellent, scoring (eight, nine including League Cup goal) and assisting (five so far) in the Premier League, as well as leading the line superbly and proving an integral part of the team.

With the signing of Miguel Almiron, there are real positive signs of an attacking formation that can improve still further, Salomon Rondon at the sharp end, supported by Almiron and Perez, or potentially another new signing.

As for the player himself, he has made perfectly clear what the situation is…

The Mag – 4 March 2019:

Salomon Rondon talking to the Chronicle:

“They [Newcastle United/ Mike Ashley] know what I want and what my family want.

“I have spoken with them and made it clear.

“If there is an opportunity for me to be here, I will stay here 100%.

“If not I will say thank you to everybody and see what happens next.

“It’s a pleasure to be here and my family are settled and happy to be here, I play with the number nine on my back and it is a pleasure for me.

“I am still on loan but if I get to stay here then I’ll be at a beautiful place.

“If not I will say thank you and wish you all luck for the future.

“I love being here…being here is great for me, I am settled here.

“I will be trying to score more goals and then we will see what happens in the future, I’m only on loan so you never know what happens.

“If I could stay many years here I’d love to, I love wearing the number nine and scoring goals for the team.”

When it comes to the biggest question of all (well apart from when Mike Ashley will sell up), can anybody honestly imagine Rafa Benitez agreeing to sign another contract if he isn’t even allowed to buy Salomon Rondon this summer?

There have even been claims of Mike Ashley having been prepared to allow the purchase of a number of players who would have broken the club transfer record before Miguel Almiron, the reports saying these were younger players who fitted Ashley’s ideal, though not players Rafa Benitez wanted or who he thought were confident choices to do the necessary and at least keep Newcastle in the Premier League.

For me, the maths will just never add up for Mike Ashley.

If you look at Newcastle meeting a £16.5m release clause in the summer, assuming West Brom don’t come up. Then assume at least a three year contract (maybe Rondon would be looking for four but stick with three for this example) on something like eighty grans a week.

You are looking at a £30m commitment over three years, the £16.5, transfer fee, £12m+ in wages (3 x £4m per season), plus agent fees and whatever.

For Rafa Benitez, and indeed the fans, he is seeing the solution for the next three years to play the key role in the team, the focus of the attack.

Salomon Rondon having shown this season he can do it and indeed every indication he will do it even better with growing quality (Almiron etc) around him.

However, Mike Ashley sees £30m expenditure and then zero return at the end of it. As Rondon would/could walk away after a three year contract for nothing.

Ashley chooses to see what he sees, he ignores the fact that somebody such as Rondon at an overall cost of £10m per year, can play a key role in guaranteeing around £600m of Premier League level revenues (Deloitte figures show NUFC revenues in 2017/18 were £178.5m but with increased money from overseas TV deals, this figure will surely rise as from 2019/20).

Buying players where the key factor is always hoping they will increase in value, is a flawed concept.

You don’t want a team of 30+ players but a manager has to be allowed to build his team as he sees fit, especially when he is Rafa Benitez.

What is the point of having a manager of his ability and experience and paying him £6m per season, then having Mike Ashley, Lee Charnley, Graham Carr, Joe Kinnear, Dennis Wise, or whoever etc dictating which players are signed?

Maybe the most significant victory of last summer’s transfer window, was when Rafa Benitez managed to persuade Mike Ashley that Federico Fernandez should be signed.

With the manager later admitting Fabian Schar was signed as a value for money (£3m release clause) squad player, Ciaran Clark also now seen as a squad player, the serious injury to Florian Lejeune meaning he could potentially miss the whole season, gave Rafa enough of an argument to land Fernandez.

This deal was done on the final day of the window and indeed NUFC had to ask for extra time to get the paperwork completed.

The central defender was landed for £6m and on a two year contract.

Rafa Benitez knew what he was getting as he had Federico Fernandez at Napoli. A player with 30 starts for Argentina and having been at Swansea for years in which time they were paying ambitious wages, I think you can assume his two year deal might be on sixty grand a week, meaning £6m in wages for the two years.

So once again, Mike Ashley will see a player in Federico Fernandez who will cost him £12m over two years in transfer fee and wages, who could then walk away in June 2021 at the age of 31, with no chance of Newcastle recouping a penny.

Can you imagine what it does to Mike Ashley when he thinks of this £12m expenditure and Fernandez isn’t even in Rafa’s squad at the minute…!

The former Swansea defender last played in the Premier League in December and hasn’t made a PL squad for a month, the form of others and early return of Lejeune combining to put him on the sidelines.

Paying somebody so much to do nothing will do the owner’s head in.

However, we all know, especially Rafa, that this is what you have to have, a squad where you can cope with injuries.

The 15 starts that Federico Fernandez has made, could prove crucial in the final analysis of this season.

Likewise, Schar is now suspended, Clark out injured and Lascelles a doubt for Saturday as well.

Rafa Benitez lucky to have somebody such as Fernandez to step in alongside Lejuene.

Newcastle United are not going to go out and buy top players in their prime from other Premier League clubs. Instead you are looking at in the main a combination of younger and older players, to try and get the required quality to compete.

Gambling on younger players from weaker leagues as the basis of your team is a massive risk. In summer 2015, Mike Ashley £50m+ to be paid out for two 20 year olds, a 22 year old and a 24 year old, from the Belgian, Dutch and French leagues. The net result was relegation thanks to a chaotic transfer policy and a manager not up to the job in Steve McClaren.

If Salomon Rondon is playing for Newcastle next season then I’m very confident Rafa Benitez will still be here as well. However, if looking into the crystal ball I see Rondon elsewhere, then difficult to imagine Rafa will have stuck around.

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