The Chronicle have revealed that Rafa Benitez will require assurances over his summer transfer budget, his ability to sign ‘experienced’ players, his control of all ‘football-related matters’ and confirmation of the club’s long-term ambition before before he agrees to any new contract under Mike Ashley.
Rafa confirmed last week that talks ARE now underway between him, his representatives and the NUFC board, but with nothing agreed as yet, several clubs have since been linked with a summer swoop for the Spaniard.
Those links to Leicester and Napoli have been addressed by the Chronicle’s Chris Waugh today, with the North-East reporter also revealing some of the key assurances Rafa Benitez is demanding from the NUFC board before he’ll commit to the club:
“There is little doubt that, in an ideal world, the 58-year-old would like to stay at St James’ Park and continue with the project he started more than two years ago.
“However, Benitez is seeking assurances that he will be afforded a competitive transfer budget this summer, given the freedom to recruit experienced players if he feels necessary, handed greater control over ‘football-related matters’, as well as affirmation that the Magpies hierarchy match his long-term ambition to challenge for European qualification and trophies.”
As this highlights, Rafa clearly wants to stay and take his ‘project’ to the next level on Tyneside after we’ve successfully beat the drop on our first season back in the big time. He doesn’t want us to just make the numbers up and finish in the top 10, he wants to win trophies (as he’s said once again this week).
His demands seem fair and what you’d expect from a world class manager full of ambition, but whether they’ll be matched by Mike Ashley is an entirely different thing..
1 – “a competitive transfer budget this summer”
Proven players come at a cost these days. Will Ashley give him enough to sign Kenedy and proven goalscorer – two deals which may require us breaking our current transfer record?
2 – “the freedom to recruit experienced players if he feels necessary”
We lack experience and Rafa’s mentioned this several times. Ashley has tended to be reluctant to sign players over the age of 26, but that needs to change. Too often we’ve signed unproven players who
3 – “handed greater control over ‘football-related matters’
The U-23 and youth set up in general needs major surgery, with the training ground facilities also way behind most Premier League clubs. Rafa needs to be given the power to improve these areas.
4 – “affirmation that the Magpies hierarchy match his long-term ambition to challenge for European qualification and trophies”
It’s ok giving Benitez a load of money to spend this summer, but this is a project and something that’s going to take consistent levels of investment and ambition year in year out if we’re to achieve Rafa’s goal. He needs to know they’re fully on-board from here on in. Problem is, will Ashley be willing to sanction this sort of investment in a club he’s been trying to sell.
That last line is the big worry for me. Ashley’s never been in it for the good of NUFC, so is he really going to ‘go for it’ just months after he was adamant on selling up?