Rafa Benitez addresses speculation over the future of key Newcastle players

Moussa Sissoko
Moussa Sissoko
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Rafa Benitez has warned Newcastle United wantaway players that he is ready to block any deal that isn’t right for the club, writes Miles Starforth.

Moussa Sissoko went public with his desire to leave St James’s Park after Euro 2016.

But the club is yet to receive a firm bid for the £35million-rated midfielder, who was due to report back for training today.

Unsettled Florian Thauvin is understood to be close to a move to Lazio, while United last week rejected an offer from Al Jazira Club for Cheick Tiote.

Barcelona have also been linked with a surprise move for Ayoze Perez, though the forward has given no indication that he wants to leave Newcastle.

United manager Benitez is prepared to let more players follow Georginio Wijnaldum and Papiss Cisse out of the door, but he insists the final decision will rest with himself and managing director Lee Charnley.

“Some players ... maybe we will need them, and they will have to stay,” said Benitez.

“Some players we will know that we can replace them for good players and they can leave.

“But it depends on each one, the positions, the offers – a lot of things. In the end it depends on us, so we have to decide if we want to keep a player or not.

“But what I want is players who are 100 per cent convinced that they have to stay here. They have to compete and they have to win.

“If we cannot do that now, maybe they will need one month, maybe two months, to realise where they are – but no rush.”

United are holding an open day for fans at St James’s Park today ahead of the new Championship season.

But Sissoko, given an extended break after his involvement at Euro 2016 with finalists France, will not train with his team-mates.

Instead, the 26-year-old will undergo fitness tests at the club’s Benton training ground.

Meanwhile, Newcastle are considering making an improved offer for Brighton and Hove Albion winger Anthony Knockaert.

The club has already signed six players this summer, and Benitez feels he has a “good relationship” with Charnley, who is driving through the club’s transfer business.

“I like to have a very good relationship with the secretary and the managing director,” said Benitez.

“I talk almost every day with Lee Charnley, and we discuss about what we want to do. I talk with the scouting department and I am in contact with them.

“I talk with my staff and I am in contact with them. I like to share my opinions and receive the opinions of the others. Then in the end we will have everything clear between me and Lee and the communication is good.”