Newcastle forced to switch transfer targets

Newcastle United have admitted defeat in their bid to take Chelsea's Ruben Loftus-Cheek on loan.

Wednesday, 11th January 2017, 5:00 am
Ruben Loftus-Cheek

Rafa Benitez is looking to strengthen his midfield in this month’s transfer window.

And Loftus-Cheek had been a loan target for Benitez, whose side take on Brentford at Griffin Park in the Championship on Saturday.

But Chelsea manager Antonio Conte says the 20-year-old won’t be farmed out by the Premier League leaders.

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“Ruben is an important player for Chelsea,” said Conte.

“He must know this. We trust a lot on him.

“For this reason, it’s important to work a lot and to take satisfaction with our team.”

On the chances of a loan move, Conte added: “No, No. Absolutely (he’s not leaving). I don’t want this. For Ruben I don’t want this.

“He knows this and the club knows this. I want him to stay because he’s ready to play for the first team.

“If he shows me he wants to play, he knows that he plays.”

Newcastle are exploring other potential loanees, though top-flight clubs are unlikely to release players until late in the window once they have done their transfer business.

United were yesterday linked with a £8million Derby County midfielder Tom Ince.

However, Ince – who has been instrumental in the Championship club’s revival under former Newcastle head coach Steve McClaren – is not for sale.

United manager Benitez had hoped for some “good news” on the transfer front in the wake of last weekend’s 1-1 draw against Birmingham City.

But the odds of a breakthrough this week have receded.

Speaking last week, Benitez said: “Sometimes it is not easy because you can find players and afterwards the club, they do not want to sell.

“It doesn’t matter the price. We were talking with some of them, but they said ‘it doesn’t matter if you offer £15million or £20m. We don’t want to sell now because we are doing well’.

“We have lost some players, but still we are looking for the right players.”

Newcastle ended their interest in Fulham’s Tom Cairney before the window opened after being quoted £20million for the 25-year-old.

United are steadily working through a list of targets, but their success could be dictated by movement elsewhere in a market which has been inflated by the Premier League’s latest multi-billion pound TV deal.

Benitez, looking at central midfielders and wingers, has suggested he would be happy to go into the second half of the season with what he’s got, though Jonjo Shelvey’s suspension has exposed a weakness in his squad.

Newcastle have lacked creativity in Shelvey’s absence.

Shelvey will serve the last match of his five-game ban for racially abusing an opponent against Brentford.