Rafa Benitez has message for Newcastle amid takeover talks at Newcastle

Rafa Benitez
Rafa Benitez

Rafa Benitez has told his players to forget about the prospect of a takeover at Newcastle United – and keep their focus on the next game.

Owner Mike Ashley formally put the club up for sale last week.

A number of interested parties, including financier Amanda Staveley, have signed non-disclosure agreements in recent weeks.

And Ashley believes a deal could be done ahead of January’s transfer window.

Goalkeeper Rob Elliot acknowledged the “excitement” on Tyneside after the weekend’s 1-0 Premier League win over Crystal Palace.

Elliot said: “There’s obviously interest, which is exciting for everyone.

Jamaal Lascelles and Yohan Cabaye

Jamaal Lascelles and Yohan Cabaye

“Hopefully, someone comes in who can take the club forward.”

Benitez, however, has spoken to his players about the importance of staying focused on the next game.

And captain Jamaal Lascelles doesn’t believe the prospect of a change in ownership is an issue for the players.

Asked about the possibility of a takeover, defender Lascelles said: “To be honest, we don’t really look into that.

To be honest, we don’t really look into that. Whatever happens, happens. The manager just tells us to concentrate on football.

Jamaal Lascelles

“Whatever happens, happens. The manager just tells us to concentrate on football.

“We’re not going to be worried about the takeover. It’s just football.

“We’ll working hard for the next game.

“That’s all we can worry about it.”

Mikel Merino – who scored United’s winner against Palace – is also confident that the sale process will not distract the players.

The midfielder said: “Personally, I don’t think much about the takeover. I don’t know what my team-mates think.

“We just have to focus on football because other things can distract you.

“We can’t worry about other things.”

Meanwhile, referee Mike Dean will take charge of Monday night’s televised game between Burnley and seventh-placed Newcastle at Turf Moor.

United have sold out their 2,500-ticket allocation for the fixture.