Newcastle sold by New Year? Here's what we know ahead of the January transfer window
Newcastle United is no near being sold as the January transfer window approaches.
Owner Mike Ashley – who put the club up for sale last year – claimed earlier this month that a takeover before the New Year was a "possibility".
“I’d like it to be before the January transfer window," said Ashley, who is looking for more than £300million for the club he bought 11 years ago.
“Realistic? It’s possible. Realistic is maybe too strong a word. Hopefully, we can carry on the good form – the recent good form – and we can get the deal done.”
Former United defender Steve Howey revealed yesterday that he had been told that the Premier League – who would need to ratify a sale – had been made aware of a potential takeover.
"I heard from a very good source the other day that something in regards to the takeover, apparently, was a lot further down the line than everybody apparently knows," Howey told BBC Newcastle's Total Sport.
"Apparently, the Premier League have been informed about this, and, apparently, news was supposed to be going to be brought out before the Man United game (on January 2)."
However, Howey added: "When I spoke to my source about this when he told me, I said, again, as always, 'I will believe it when I see it'."
The Gazette understands that four groups have been in talks with the lawyers handling the sale.
However, none of those groups has put money down, and a takeover of the club, which is 15th in the Premier League and five points above the relegation zon, is not understood to be imminent.
Rafa Benitez, meanwhile, needs some certainty about investment ahead of the January window.
United's manager – who has been planning for the transfer window for months with Steve Nickson, the club's head of recruitment – gave a worrying transfer update ahead after the club's 4-0 Boxing Day defeat to Liverpool.
Benitez, keen on signing Atlanta United midfielder Miguel Almiron, was asked if the club was "close" to signing a player after the defeat, the heaviest of his tenure at St James's Park.
"No," said Benitez, who had to sell to buy in the summer.
Asked if he was worried about the situation, Benitez said: "Yes."
With Ashley on holiday over Christmas, Benitez has been dealing with Lee Charnley, United's managing director ahead of the window.
"I was talking with Lee Charnley, and still I have the same feeling – that it will not be easy," said Benitez.
Asked if he would be scrambling for signings at the end of next month, Benitez said: "I have no idea."
Benitez will face the media this afternoon ahead of tomorrow's game against Watford at Vicarage Road.