The club, put up for sale in October, is set to remain in Ashley’s hands for the forseeable future.
And United manager Benitez – who has another 18 months on his contract at St James’s Park – is now waiting to see if Ashley and managing director Lee Charnley can deliver the players he needs before the transfer window closes at the end of the month.
“There’s been a lot of speculation about the takeover, but he told me it wasn’t going to happen,” said Benitez, whose side take on Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium this evening.
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“Fair enough, I have no problem. So we go through to the window and I gave him the names of the targets. They told me ‘give us a list of names’. We’re working on that.
“It didn’t matter about how much I had to spend. I have given the names and they know the prices of those names. We have to be sure we can get our targets.”
It is unclear how much money Ashley is prepared to commit to transfers this month.
“We’re working on it,” said Benitez, whose side is 15th in the Premier League table.
“I don’t know if anything’s closer, but we have the green light to bring players in.
“That’s positive – that there’ll be some money spent this month. It’ll be a red light when we get to the end of the transfer window, but it’s a green light now.”
Asked if he could work together with Ashley to take the club forward if a buyer can’t be found, Benitez said: “In the future, you never know.
“It’s a big game every week, and we have to do things the way we have to do it. I think we can improve.
Some fans fear that Benitez, given his strained relationship with Ashley, will not see out his contract.
Asked if he would consider his future now the takeover was off, Benitez said: “My future’s Manchester City now, and after Chelsea and then Burnley and Crystal Palace and so on.”