Rafa Benitez reaffirms that he will have the final say on any Newcastle signing

Rafa Benitez
Rafa Benitez

Rafa Benitez says he is relaxed about Mike Ashley’s decision to take a close look at Newcastle United’s transfer business.

The club’s owner has had a series of discussions with the club’s hierarchy over the past fortnight.

We check the names and after we go with the names and we try to sign the players.

Ashley – who saw 33-year-old Daryl Murphy score Newcastle’s winner against Brentford on Saturday – is understood to want United to again focus on bringing in younger players with sell-on value.

The billionaire remains close to chief scout Graham Carr, who stayed on at St James’s Park when Benitez committed himself to the club in the wake of relegation last season.

Benitez and managing director Lee Charnley oversaw a profitable summer last year in which Newcastle, yet to make a breakthrough in this month’s transfer window, bought players of all ages.

Ashley, however, is reluctant to spend big in this window, though United manager Benitez – whose side take on Birmingham City at St James’s Park in a third-round FA Cup replay tonight – still feels the club can strengthen its midfield before the end of the month.

Asked if the transfer policy had changed, Benitez said: “We have had the same way to work as we have had during this month.

“I talk with Lee, we analyse all the options, we have meetings with the scouts and we ask for names.

“We check the names and after we go with the names and we try to sign the players.

“I am not worried about if it (the player) is 21, 28 or 30. The first thing for me is if he is good enough, and then we put the name there and if we can sign the player, we sign the player. If we cannot, then we need to find solutions. We are trying to do the same.

“Still I have confidence that we will get the players that we want or that we need for improving the team.”

Asked if he was “worried”, Benitez added: “No. Obviously, we have lost some targets because they are expensive or because they (the other club) didn’t want to sell.

“But still, I have confidence that we can do what we want to do.”

Benitez has not spoken to Ashley, though he understands that he’s “really pleased” with Newcastle’s form in the Championship this season.

“My understanding is that he is really, really pleased with the team and with everything that we have done for months,” said Benitez. “Hopefully, he can be really happy with everything we will do now until the end of the season. That means that we are still winning games.”

Benitez also says he has a constructive relationship with Carr, who oversaw the club’s transfer business up to his arrival.

However, Benitez insists that he has the final say on any signing.

“From day one, we had some meetings,” said Benitez. “We were asking different scouts about players.

“We had this list of players we were checking, and after talking about this one, this one, this one and monitoring these players and deciding.

“Now is exactly the same situation. We had a meeting maybe one month ago, or something like that, and we had a meeting the other day. We put all the names (down), and after, we decide.

“The fans (ask) ‘do you have the final say?’. Yes, the club cannot sign anyone without talking with me, but at the same time (they ask) ‘can you sign whatever you want?’.

“We are trying to sign what we need. That’s what we are trying to do. We have to try to find the players that we need and after, the players that we want.”