Rafa Benitez gives January transfer update after identifying Newcastle’s ‘targets’

Rafa Benitez.
Rafa Benitez.

Rafa Benitez has lined up Newcastle United’s January transfer targets – and he’s waiting on the go-ahead to move on them.

Benitez hopes to find out later this week what his budget will be for next month’s transfer window.

What I would say is that if you know where you are and what you have, it’s easier for me and it’s easier for our people.

Rafa Benitez

United’s manager is unable to move on any player until he knows his budget.

However, the situation is complicated by the ongoing takeover talks at the club, which was put up for sale by owner Mike Ashley in October.

A sale before the end of the January window is unlikely with the Christimas holidays approaching and the Premier League needing a 30-day period to ratify a change in ownership.

And it is unclear how much Ashley is prepared to invest in the squad.

With 16th-placed Newcastle – who take on Everton at St James’s Park tonight – now just two points above the relegation zone, the need for reinforcements is pressing.

Asked if he wanted clarity, United manager Benitez said: “What I would say is that if you know where you are and what you have, it’s easier for me and it’s easier for our people.

“We can talk with agents, players and clubs and say ‘we’re here’ and ‘we can’ or ‘we cannot’.

“It’s easier. You know where you are and you can go in one direction or another one. You need to know as soon as possible.

“Now we need to concentrate on this game. Hopefully, we can finish this game and talk. We have Arsenal in a few days, but still, we need to know, because our people are travelling round the world watching games.

“We have our targets.”

Benitez will speak to managing director Lee Charnley after the Everton game.

“After the game we will talk and we’ll see where we are,” said Benitez.

“Again, I would say it’s not an issue before the game. I want be make sure we concentrate and do what we have to do.

“We have our people travelling. Each has their own responsibility. They’re doing their jobs. We’re doing our jobs.

“We’ll sit down together and go in this direction or go in that direction.”

Asked if he wanted to know his budget before Saturday’s game against Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium, Benitez added: “I would say as soon as possible. That’s normal.

“You have to go to the market in January and have your targets. You need to know the budget. That’s it.”

Benitez doesn’t believe the uncertainty is an issue for his players.

“The reality is we’re not winning, but I don’t think it’s because of that,” said Benitez.

“If we win (against Everton), everybody will say that is not affecting things.

“We know our job. The transfer window is a time when everyone is talking and everyone has an opinion.

“It’s not rocket science. It is easy to see that we need things in some positions.

“We were trying to do that in August, and we will try to do that again now. Whether we can, we will see.

“We are working on that. We are monitoring players and talking with people, but at the moment we do not know how much money’s available.

“I don’t know what the budget is. We just have to concentrate on preparing the team and doing our jobs properly.

“We know what we need. Can we get that? I don’t know, I just have to concentrate on the games.”

Meanwhile, Everton manager Sam Allardyce insists he bears no grudge against Newcastle or Ashley for the way he was treated during his brief spell in charge at St James’s Park.

And Allardyce has insisted that he has nothing but respect for former adversary Benitez.

Allardyce spent just eight months in charge at United before being sacked by Ashley nearly 10 years ago, a decision the billionaire has recently admitted was hasty.

Allardyce insists it is all water under the bridge, with even his relationship with Benitez on a different footing after their tussles when at Bolton Wanderers and Liverpool respectively.

“It was difficult circumstances for me with the change of ownership,” said Allardyce. “In the end it was chosen that I wasn’t to be and moved on.

“For the first time in my entire life as a manager I actually heard an owner of a football club say it was a mistake he let me go.”

On Benitez, Allardyce added: “Past history wasn’t great. Recent history’s OK. Certainly there hasn’t been any animosity recently.”