Ex-Mag reveals how Mike Ashley forced his hand in 2017 – & caused Rafa Benitez ‘problems’

Some insightful comments have emerged from former Newcastle United forward Yoan Gouffran this week, revealing how Mike Ashley refused to give him the deal he needed to remain at St James’ Park in 2017.

The Frenchman – who currently plays in the Armenian first tier after a two-year stint in Turkey – says Rafa Benitez ‘fought’ for him to get a new contract back in 2017, but insists that the current regime were refusing to give him anything above a one-year extension.

As a result, he felt unable to sign given the lack of security it gave him moving forward, with Mo Diame falling into exactly the same situation last summer, being another player who was keen to stay but not on the non-committal terms being offered.

Here’s what Gouffran’s had to say during an interview with VBET news, touching on his relationship with Rafa, the ‘problems’ he had with Mike Ashley and his reluctant decision to leave:

“I have always had a good relationship with Rafa Benitez

“He is a smart guy and I improved a lot while I was at Newcastle.

“He wanted me to stay but he had some problems with the board – they wanted to give me a one-year contract but I wanted more.

“He ‘fought’ for me to get a new contract but they wanted the year only, and I decided to decline because I wanted to secure my future and not think about what will happen next year.”

Almost three years on from his release and move to Super Lig side Goztepe as a free agent, Gouffran is now playing with FC Ararat-Armenia.

His career has gone backwards since Benitez tried and failed to keep him at the club, but he certainly developed as a player during his time on Tyneside, with his hard work, versatility and involvement in 32 goals in 141 games being a decent return for a man who cost us little over £1m back in January 2013.

Here’s a look back at his best bits:

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About Olly Hawkins

Olly has been a Junior Magpie from birth. As a season ticket holder and avid Newcastle United fan - he eats, sleeps and breathes all things NUFC.

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