Rafa Benitez responds to reports about Mike Ashley taking a hands-on approach to transfers at Newcastle

Rafa Benitez
Rafa Benitez

Rafa Benitez has addressed speculation over Mike Ashley's involvement in Newcastle United's transfer business.

Owner Ashley is understood to have had a series of discussions about the club's approach to this month's transfer window.

The billionaire is reportedly keen to again see younger players with a sell-on value brought to the Championship leaders.

READ MORE: Mike Ashley throws curveball as injury-hit Newcastle close in on transfer breakthrough

Ashley was at Griffin Park on Saturday to see 33-year-old Daryl Murphy, signed last summer on the instruction of Benitez, scored Newcastle's winner against Brentford.

United manager Benitez was asked about reports over a change in emphasis in the transfer market ahead of tomorrow night's FA Cup replay against Birmingham City.

"People think I like to sign old players" said Benitez.

"Our team is one of the youngest, or in the middle, in terms of average in the division. I like to sign young players to develop and improve them, and at the same time sign players that we need.

"Players like Daryl Murphy can make the difference. That is important. I am confident we can sign the players we need."

Benitez speaks daily to Lee Charnley, the United's managing director, as the injury-hit club closes in on a breakthrough.

Asked if he had spoken to Ashley, Benitez said: “My communication with the owner is always through Lee Charnley, the managing director, and nothing has changed.

"Every day we talk about transfers with our scouts, agents, and we have the same idea in my head which is to sign the best players possible.

"If we can sign the right players for us ... if we cannot then maybe someone can help. It is a crucial time everything is so positive and we are at the top of the table. It is easy to understand if we sign the right players if would be better."

Newcastle have been rebuffed in their attempts to sign some players, though the club still has "options" on others who Benitez feels could strengthen his squad.

“We have some options, a couple of them could be really good, someone I like a lot," said Bentiez. "Hopefully, we can progress.

“We are watching everything. It is easier to bring a player on loan with an option or obligation. We are working on that, and I have confidence we can do well."