There’s no doubt that Rafa Benitez has been frustrated the way Newcastle owner Mike Ashley has not backed him in the transfer market for the last 15 months.
But it seems that when Ashley finally returned in January from his Christmas holiday in Miami, he worked with Rafa to get three loan players into the club.
Two of those have been stars for Newcastle – Dubravka and Kenedy with Islam Slimani still to recover from his thigh injury.
He had that injury when he signed for Newcastle, and Rafa aptly pointed out that’s what happens when you leave things to last few hours of the transfer window.
Martin Hardy of the Independent has reported that by the time the three loan signings had been made Benitez was talking one-on-one with owner Mike Ashley.
Rafa Benitez – have relations with Mike Ashley improved?
Ever since Rafa mentioned he had talked to Ashley in mid-January, he said the call was very positive and that Newcastle hopefully would get in the players he wanted.
Ashley had refused to spend 20M on Rafa’s number one choice – Feyenoord striker Nicolai Jorgensen.
But Newcastle were able on the very last day of the transfer window to sign Islam Slimani on loan in addition to Slovakian goalkeeper Martin Dubravka.
There is some positive news that we will sign Dubravka for about £3.5M this summer, and we have a chance to sign 22-year-old Kenedy for £15M.
Hopefully, Newcastle will push hard to sign Kenedy for around £15M – said to be the fee Chelsea want for the Brazilian.
But it’s the call in mid-January which to us seems very important.
A communication line was opened between Ashley and Benitez, and there has been no criticism coming from Rafa about what we did in the January transfer window.
It really doesn’t look as though a takeover will happen although that’s not impossible.
But if Newcastle have to continue with Ashley as the owner, there seems have been a thawing of the relationship between owner and manager.
There’s nothing like talking things through (from each side and viewpoint) to improve any relationship, and it looks as though that happened in January between Ashley and Benitez.
There will be lots of money (from the Premier League) available in the summer for Rafa to spend.
And as we have pointed out before – Rafa can sell players like Mitrovic, Mbemba, Gayle, Colback, Saivet, and others to get more transfer money into the coffers.
We’d have preferred a new owner, but if Mike Ashley can agree with Rafa to support him and stay out of Rafa’s way, then Newcastle could still have a much better team next season and better each year after that.
The alternative is that Rafa refuses to work with Ashley and walks away (to the delight of several PL clubs) – but that’s why the thawing of relations in January could be significant.
After all, Rafa Benitez seems to be the perfect manager for Newcastle United.
And we really hope he stays long term.