According to the Mirror, Rafa Benitez has been offered a new five-year deal by Mike Ashley this summer – however he’ll refuse to sign it until the club releases ‘significant’ money to spend on transfers and ‘invests in the youth academy’.
With the gaffer having just ten months left to run on his current contract a new deal for him should have been at the top of Mike Ashley’s priority list this summer.
Instead, he’s playing a dangerous game of cat and mouse with Benitez, making the same mistakes, refusing to release funds and showing no signs of ambition – leaving us lagging behind our Premier League rivals with just over 3 weeks of the window remaining.
The Mirror claim that Benitez is now ‘refusing’ to sign a new five-year deal offered to him by Ashley – and it’s no surprise.
Here’s what North East reporter Simon Bird has had to say about the current situation, suggesting that Rafa will only sign once he sees proof of spending but Ashley will only splash the cash once Benitez commits:
‘Rafa Benitez is in a game of brinkmanship with Newcastle over a new contract and transfer budgets.
‘The Magpies’ manager refuses to sign a new five-year deal offered this summer by owner Mike Ashley until the club releases significant transfer cash and invests in the youth academy.
‘But Ashley will only splash the cash if Benitez commits himself long-term first.
‘The stand-off is threatening the club’s Premier League prospects with the transfer deadline little more than three weeks away and the new season starting two days later.
‘Benitez admitted on Tuesday he wants to “stay at Newcastle for five years, or ten”, but is entering the last ten months of his current £5million-a-year deal.
‘As it stands, the Spaniard is beginning a long goodbye on Tyneside — unless someone blinks.
‘Ashley and his top brass are playing hard-ball with their manager, knowing their best leverage is releasing transfer fees.
‘Benitez needs to see action first to convince him his job is a long-term prospect and admitted this week he has to sell to buy, is wheeling and dealing, and “not 100 per cent happy”.’
The best thing about Rafa Benitez is that he offers hope. The worst thing about Rafa Benitez is that he offers hope.
For as long as he stays there’s a light inside all of us that hopes he will win this war and stay on for several years to come and make us great again, but that hope is dangerous – with that scenario seeming so far away and so unlikely for as long as Mike Ashley remains.
I can’t see a world where Rafa Benitez and Mike Ashley work together in the long-term at NUFC, so a takeover feels like our best hope.