By 90Min
August 17, 2018

Mike Ashley refused to top up Newcastle United's big summer offer for Rafa Benitez's main transfer target Alassane Plea by just £2m to get the deal over the line, according to reports. 

Much has been made of the London-born business tycoon's running of the Magpies during the 11 years he has been at the helm of St James' Park, with many Geordies left furious with the perceived lack of financial backing on the pitch at critical times. 

Some had hoped that due to the club's struggles last term, where Rafa Benitez eventually guided the north east side to a 10th-place finish after their season-long battle against relegation, the recently closed transfer window would have brought about a change; an opportunity for the Spanish head coach to finally begin to mould his own side. 

Many disgruntled supporters revert to their biggest transfer - the reported £22.5m paid for Michael Owen in 2005 - as being a figure which should now be beaten if they are to return to competing further up the league like years gone by. 

And according to the Chronicle, Ashley was willing to go close this summer, by offering £20m for then-Nice striker Plea. 

At one point, the club seemed confident they would land their man; however, after the French club demanded more, the Tyneside hierarchy became disinterested. 

Nevertheless, the player eventually joining Bundesliga team Borussia Monchengladbach for £22m, meaning, it would seem, had Newcastle been permitted by Ashley to offer £2m more, they would have secured Benitez's first choice transfer target.

As it was, West Bromwich Albion's Salomon Rondon was brought in on loan as an alternative - with Dwight Gayle going the other way - as well as Yoshinori Muto. 

The report claims that the 28-year-old Baggies frontman was also on the Magpies' manager's wanted list, although Plea was undoubtedly at the top. 

It would suggest then that Ashley's reluctance to spend big continues, and should it eventually catalyse the departure of Benitez; he may well find himself wondering 'what if?' had he backed his man in the first instance. 

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