Tony Jimenez hits back at Kevin Keegan with extraordinary Newcastle claims

Tony Jimenez has claimed Mike Ashley turned down a bid from Sheikh Mansour for Newcastle United.

Kevin Keegan.
Kevin Keegan.

Jimenez has responded to criticism from Kevin Keegan in "My Life in Football", his forthcoming autobiography.

Keegan had claimed that the club's hierarchy blocked a move for Luka Modric, named the world's best male player at the Best Fifa Football Awards in London this week, during his ill-fated second spell as manager in 2008 because he was "too lightweight".

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Jimenez, vice-president (player recruitment), at the time, also alleges that Keegan rejected proposed moves for Karim Benzema, Daniel Sturridge and Hatem Ben Arfa.

"The minute you questioned him, he lost the plot," Jimenez told The Times.

"During that window we offered him the players that we were working on when we thought Harry Redknapp was coming in as manager – Jermain Defoe, Peter Crouch, Lassana Diarra – and he said none of them were good enough.

Kevin Keegan.

"The other player we were really keen on was Daniel Sturridge. He said he'd had him as a kid at Man City and that he wasn't good enough for League One.

"He didn't want Hatem Ben Arfa or Karim Benzema either."

On Keegan's Modric claims, Jimenez said: "We flew Modric over to Newcastle, got him to the training ground. Everything was pretty much agreed, but it was down to Mike. He (Ashley) was given the numbers – a £16million fee and £2million commission for the agent – and decided he didn't want to take the risk."

Jimenez also claimed Keegan "went mad" when Newcastle awarded Andy Carroll a new contract – as he didn't think the striker was good enough.

The Times also report that among Jimenez's "eye-catching anecdotes" were "claims that Mike Ashley never wanted to buy Newcastle and rejected the chance to sell the club to Sheikh Mansour before the Abu Dhabi takeover of Manchester City".