Mike Ashley stands firm on cash pledge as Newcastle close in on targets

Lee Charnley with Newcastle owner Mike Ashley
Lee Charnley with Newcastle owner Mike Ashley
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Mike Ashley is pushing Lee Charnley to get deals done at Newcastle United as manager Rafa Benitez prepares for the start of pre-season training.

Benitez is frustrated at a lack of progress in the transfer market.

The club, strongly linked with a move for Valencia midfielder Enzo Perez in Spain, has only signed one player – Christian Atsu – so far this summer.

READ MORE: Why the delay? What we know about Newcastle’s stalled transfer efforts

Benitez had hoped that the club would be able to push through several early deals.

But the club has found the transfer market, so far, to be problematic.

Newcastle have lost out on Chelsea’s Tammy Abraham – the striker is set to join Swansea City on a season-long loan – and managing director Lee Charnley is working through the lists of targets drawn up by Benitez.

United’s players report back for the start of pre-season training on Monday.

And Benitez remains hopeful that there will be at least one breakthrough between now and then.

Eibar defender Florian Lejeune could follow Atsu through the door, while reports in Spain claim that Newcastle have lodged a £8.8million bid for Perez.

The 31-year-old has spent the past two and a half years at Valencia, Benitez’s former club.

Benitez is looking to strenghthen his midfielder ahead of United’s return to the Premier League.

Ashley, Newcastle’s owner, stands by his pledge to back manager Benitez this summer with “every last penny” that the club generates through promotion and player sales.

And the billionaire, keen for the club to do some early business in the summer transfer window, is in regular contact with Charnley.

Ashley’s decision to look for potential investors in the club will NOT impact the planned summer spending.

Meanwhile, United midfielder Isaac Hayden has spoken about the club’s season-opener against Tottenham Hotspur on August 12.

“I was looking at the fixtures the day they came out, and Spurs at home is a massive fixture to start off with,” said the 22-year-old.

“I’m sure everybody wants to get back in and will be looking forward to that one.

“But it’s the whole Premier League experience – it’s not just the one game. You’ve got 38 games against a lot of good teams, so it’s exciting times.

“It’s about everyone pulling in the right direction – the players that are already here, the players that will come – and everyone working together to make sure that the club goes in the right direction.”