Rafa Benitez returned to Tyneside yesterday and was photographed going into St. James’ Park for a meeting with the hierarchy – probably with Lee Charnley and others.
There was no news that Mike Ashley would attend the meeting although progress will be made much more quickly if Ashley will only meet face to face with the owner to sort out some of his demands before he will sign a new deal with Newcastle.
Rafa’s contract talks have been dragging on for over two months now with no real progress being reported in the local papers.
Rafa Benitez – is push coming to shove with Rafa?
That’s typical Newcastle under Mike Ashley.
Newcastle have been pitifully slow in signing players for the fourth successive transfer window.
And we have made only one signing – an excellent one in goalkeeper Martin Dubravka for £4M from Spaera Prague.
But we are also likely to lose Mikel Merino to Real Sociedad before the end of the week – with the Spanish club activating a release clause of about £10M in the 21-year-old’s Newcastle contract.
It’s a pity we couldn’t send the youngster out on loan for next season to get first-team playing time and then he could return next summer and be able to challenge again for a first-team place.
But maybe that will not work?
The Shields Gazette are reporting today that Rafa wants to agree on a transfer budget with the club’s hierarchy before starting up contract talks (again) with the club.
We were hoping maybe a new interview would come out with Rafa but no such luck.
However, this is what Rafa said at the end of last season on the transfer budget:
“In modern football, and especially in the Premier League, the budget is crucial.”
“The reality is, with the prices in the market now, you need the money to compete.”
Let’s hope Rafa is still not talking about what the ambitions are of the Newcastle hierarchy.
That’s because it’s become embarrassingly obvious that Ashley does not have anywhere near the ambition and passion for Newcastle United that Rafa has.
Ashley doesn’t even attend the games these days.
We have no idea what Rafa thinks of the events of the last six weeks – since the season ended.
He’s unlikely to be pleased but there again – we don’t know what’s happening behind the scenes.
We hope to hear some good news from Newcastle soon – on the transfer front and with Rafa’s contract.
We continue to live in hope.