Speaking on Sky Sports’ latest ‘transfer talk’ podcast, Keith Downie has shared his take on the current situation at St James’ – saying he “still expects Rafa Benitez to be in charge of Newcastle United come the start of next season”.
Downie – Sky’s north-east reporter – claims that a contract for Rafa Benitez has been “drawn up”, but understands that the Spaniard is now waiting to see what happens regarding a takeover before he signs.
He also states that despite Rafa’s ‘frustration’ at the ‘messy’ situation that’s now unravelled at St James’ Park, the Bin Zayed Group are still adamant they’ll meet Mike Ashley’s £350m asking price and buy the club.
That said, he insists he’ll remain ‘sceptical’ until he hears more from UK sources he trusts – saying all the takeover claims are coming from the Middle-East. So, more caution from local reporters, but could this silence be golden?
On the subject of Mike Ashley, he states that the NUFC is still keen to get Benitez’s future sorted regardless of the outcome of Sheikh Khaled’s takeover bid – but time is ticking, and Rafa will be keen to get transfers sorted early; something he can’t do until his future is sorted.
We’re over 2 weeks on from their initial round of talks in London and the clock is ticking in the transfer window too, with it shutting in early August this summer.
On the transfer front, Keith states that Benitez is still looking at players and ‘making calls’ in preparation to potentially sign a new contract, however Downie suggests that Newcastle will NOT be signing anyone this summer until Rafa’s contract is sorted.
Not only that, I suspect Ashley is reluctant to spend any of his own cash if a takeover is being lined up, meaning Benitez may only be able to line up deals – which is risky business when others are able to swoop in and beat us to it (see Wolves’ interest in Rondon).
Click here to listen to the podcast in full – although beware there’s quite a bit said about other clubs before they get round to Keith Downie.