The summer has only just begun but signs are already emerging that it could be a long couple of months until the new season for Newcastle United fans, with owner Mike Ashley reportedly refusing to back manager Rafael Benitez in the transfer market until the Spaniard signs a new contract with the club.
Owner Ashley is notorious on Tyneside for failing to invest properly in Newcastle's playing staff or training facilities, with the Toon Army citing the most recent January transfer window, when only three players were brought in - all on loan.
According to the Chronicle (via NUFC Blog), Ashley is demanding that Benitez agrees to sign a long-term contract with the Magpies before agreeing to give the manager the necessary funds to compete in the transfer market this summer.
This situation could develop into something of a catch-22 for Newcastle, with Benitez reportedly holding off on signing a new deal until Ashley agrees to give him the money to sign players.
Mark Douglas, Newcastle United editor for the Chronicle, issued an update on the situation:
“A stand-off has developed between club and manager, with Newcastle seemingly asking Benitez to sign a long-term deal before committing funds in the transfer market – something the Magpies chief is reluctant to do before he sees evidence of their desire to address the footballing issues he has outlined to them.
“It’s understood talks are “ongoing” between Benitez’s representatives and the club but with Lee Charnley due in North Yorkshire for the Premier League’s AGM it’s unlikely there will be any imminent breakthrough on that or further transfer business.”
Former Liverpool and Real Madrid boss Benitez masterminded Newcastle's return to the Premier League following his appointment in 2016. The Spaniard's web of contacts from his time managing some of Europe's elite clubs could help Newcastle land some decent players - he is good friends with agent Giuliano Bertolucci, who represents the likes of David Luiz and Newcastle loanee Kenedy, among others.
Ashley has owned Newcastle United since 2007, the club suffering relegation to the Championship twice during his tenure but recovering to bounce back to the Premier League.
The 53-year-old put the club up for sale earlier this season but attempts to find a buyer have been unsuccessful thus far.