Mike Ashley

Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Rafa’s Newcastle plea: With investment, we can improve like Napoli

Leave a comment

Hearing Rafa Benitez spell it out, it’s difficult to imagine why anyone wouldn’t take a swing on making big investments in the transfer market.

[ PL PREVIEW: Leicester v. Newcastle ]

It’s also certainly not as cut-and-dried as the Newcastle United manager makes it sound — players can, after all, flop and devalue — and it’s worth noting that most skeptics would note that Magpies owner Mike Ashley is incredibly stubborn with the club’s money.

Yet as Benitez and Newcastle discuss a new contract and record signing Miguel Almiron reinvigorates the Magpies attack, it’s worth noting that Rafa is recalling one of the great success stories this decade, and his involvement with it. From Sky Sports:

“When I signed for Napoli the president Aurelio De Laurentiis had ambition and he wanted to improve. He wanted to go to Europe and be there every year. So we signed Reina, Higuain, Albiol, Mertens, Callejon with money from Cavani. Selling Cavani got us around £60m.

“The year after we signed Koulibaly and Jorginho. Just by selling Higuain and Jorginho, the club got 140m so it was a massive profit. And they still have Koulibaly and all these players and you know the prices of these players.

“They have guaranteed in the last four years to be in Europe – either in the Europa League or the Champions League. That means when you have the potential you can do that. You can see the potential here. That is what you are looking for.”

Like Newcastle, Napoli had a fall from grace. Unlike Newcastle, the Neapolitan side has reclaimed its status in Europe.

Rafa’s convinced the fans, but has he convinced Ashley? Because there’s a lot more money in European competition than there’s dough in a failing relegation scrap under a lesser manager.

Benitez on lack of goals: ‘You have to spend you have to spend £40M, £50M, £75M’

Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Rafa Benitez holds all the cards when it comes to his future at Newcastle United, so it’s worth noting any time he strays from the script.

[ MORE: Match recap | Emery reacts ]

Managing for penny-pinching owner Mike Ashley has been a slog for the former Liverpool and Napoli boss, but Benitez has endeared himself to the Geordie faithful by staying with the club through relegation and saving the club’s Premier League status on (probably) two occasions.

The Magpies fell 2-0 to Arsenal on Monday, a match few thought Newcastle would win at the Emirates Stadium.

“We were close, but it was about chances in the final third. … The final third we have been speaking all season, the final third you have to spend £40M £50M, £75M.”

Newcastle is likely to have broken its transfer record this winter — Miguel Almiron has to meet some contract conditions to get his deal past Michael Owen‘s previous record — but that deal falls short of those big figures.

And as Benitez begins contract discussions with Ashley, Newcastle supporters can run down a list of strikers the Magpies did not buy despite persistent rumors… and what their price tags became once the players met their potential. Names like Batshuayi, Piatek, and Monday scorer Lacazette were all scouted by the Magpies but never arrived at St. James’ Park as a player for the home team.

What do you think? Will Ashley and Newcastle do enough to keep Rafa?

Benitez reportedly reaches Newcastle breaking point over transfers

Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images
Leave a comment

The Telegraph claims that Rafa Benitez has issued an ultimatum to stingy Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley: Buy me two players, or I’m done after the season.

The celebrated manager has had success with Newcastle despite its failure to spend on players since promotion back to the Premier League.

[ MORE: Latest on Emiliano Sala ]

It’s believed that one of the players is Atlanta United’s Miguel Almiron, with the Premier League outfit and MLS club far apart on their valuation of the player.

A move for Almiron would break Newcastle’s transfer record, which has stood since the 2005 purchase of Michael Owen.

According to Football365.com, 15 PL teams have broken their transfer records more than five times since Newcastle set its milestone.

Newcastle’s transfer record is just over $20 million, a figure that was spent more than two dozen times this summer alone.

If Newcastle fails to sign Benitez to a new deal, it’s difficult to imagine them finding a manager anywhere near his level to take over the squad. And given the value of players on its pitch, the club would almost certainly continue its recent pattern of being annual relegation fodder.

That is if the penny-pinching doesn’t again doom Newcastle to the Championship.

Ashley says Newcastle could be sold before January window

Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images
1 Comment

NEWCASTLE, England (AP) Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley says talks about selling the Premier League club “are at a more progressed stage than they have ever been.”

[ MORE: VAR coming to Champions League in February; Pep “delighted” ]

Ashley, who bought Newcastle in 2007, has officially been looking to sell the club since October 2017.

Speaking to Sky News on Monday, Ashley said it was “possible” a sale could be completed “before the January transfer window,” although he wasn’t in exclusive negotiations with an interested party.

[ MORE: FA Cup draw: PL giants handed lower-league opponents ]

Ashley said “I am hopeful for the Newcastle fans, for the club, for everyone, so I will be able to step aside and we can get an owner in that will please everybody.”

Newcastle fans have been protesting about Ashley’s ownership in recent months.

Did Mike Ashley blow Newcastle’s chance at becoming Man City?

Getty Images
1 Comment

Newcastle fans have been trying to get rid of owner Mike Ashley for years. With the Magpies struggling to recruit top talent on a consistent basis and failing to keep up with other Premier League teams on a monetary level, his ownership has been criticized regularly.

Turns out, they could have been rid of him years ago, but he ruined the opportunity to sell. Those prospective buyers turned to to Manchester City and transformed the club into one of the best in Europe.

According to lawyers defending former Newcastle vice-president Tony Jimenez, whom Ashley is suing for $4 million, Ashley had now-Manchester City owners Sheikh Mansour interested in acquiring Newcastle back in 2008, just a year after Ashley purchased Newcastle himself.

However, Jimenez’s lawyer Adam Johnson says that Ashley “refused to meet a potential buyer who went on to purchase Manchester City Football Club.” Then, Johnson claims that Jimenez lined up other potential buyers, but Ashley blew that when he “visited Dubai between September 13 and 18 2008 in order to meet them. Mr Jimenez says that on the evening of September 16 2008, Mr Ashley created a disturbance in a bar in Dubai. Although Mr Jimenez helped Mr Ashley minimize the impact of the trouble, it again ruined the potential sale of Newcastle United Football Club that Mr Jimenez had lined up.”

Ashley’s lawsuit claims that a payment of $4 million to Jimenez – which was initially intended to purchase a minority stake in a French golf course – was redirected to Jimenez by illegal means. Jimenez claims Ashley agreed to the transfer after Jimenez did work looking for a potential Newcastle United buyer, and even claims he’s owed another $9 million agreed upon after Jimenez’s work to clean up the Qatar incident.