Rafa hopes Ashley is ‘clever enough to understand’

Date published: Saturday 23rd December 2017 8:06

Rafael Benitez is hoping Newcastle owner Mike Ashley is “clever enough” to realise he has to spend in January if he wants to avoid another scrap for Premier League survival.

Benitez has held talks with the sportswear magnate, who appears to have failed in his attempts to sell the club by Christmas.

The Spaniard is keeping his fingers crossed that his warnings over the consequences of failing to bolster a squad left short in the summer have been heeded.

Benitez said: “I hope that Mike Ashley is clever enough to understand… What I say is that it’s his team, his business, he wants the best for the team.

“We have seen the consequences of not doing business in the way we wanted to do business in August, so it’s obvious when we talk about January how important it is for the city, for every fan, for everyone at the club to stay in the Premier League.

“We will try to do what we have to do.”

The Magpies slipped into the relegation zone as a result of their 1-0 defeat at Arsenal last Saturday, a result which left them without a win in nine games and with just a single point from the last 27 they have contested.

Benitez was left scratching around for players to fill the gaps in his squad during the summer and has identified a series of targets for the winter, although he does not yet know what funds he will have at his disposal.

He is understood to be close to striking a loan deal for Chelsea midfielder Kenedy, but sources on Tyneside have dismissed links with similar approaches for club-mate David Luiz.

The former Liverpool and Real Madrid manager, who takes his team to West Ham on Saturday, said: “We have been in contact talking about how to move forward. We are progressing and I have confidence we will do well.

“Exactly as I’m expecting? I don’t know, but I have confidence we can do something that will be important for the team.”

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