Rafa Benitez under pressure to sell as Newcastle close in on striker

Newcastle United boss Rafa Benitez.
Newcastle United boss Rafa Benitez.

Rafa Benitez and Lee Charnley are under pressure to move players out of Newcastle United.

Benitez is pushing for a transfer breakthrough ahead of Sunday’s season-opener against Tottenham Hotspur.

United’s manager, keen on Arsenal’s Lucas Perez, is looking to sign a striker before the club kicks off its Premier League campaign.

But owner Mike Ashley wants to see movement out of the club.

So far United have spent just over £30millon on five players, though the club has recouped some cash from the sales of Florian Thauvin and Daryl Murphy.

“We know what we need and will try to do this until the end of the transfer window,” said United manager Benitez.

“We are trying to go in different directions at the same time.”

Benitez was promised “every last penny” the club generated through promotion and player sales.

Ashley, however, wants Benitez and managing director Lee Charnley to move on a number of surplus players, including Grant Hanley, Achraf Lazaar and Emmanuel Riviere.

The Gazette reported last week that Hanley’s wages had scuppered a move to Derby County.

Hanley, signed from Blackburn Rovers last summer, has four years left of his contract to run.

Lazaar was also handed a five-year deal when he signed from Palermo a year ago.

“We are trying to move players out to bring players in,” said Benitez. “We know where we are and what we need.”

Lazaar, Riviere and Tim Krul are training at the club’s Academy.

The trio have been told to find new clubs by Benitez, who spoke about his interest £13.5million-rated Perez after Sunday’s 2-0 win over Hellas Verona.

“I like the player,” said Benitez. “I know that he did really well (at Deportivo La Coruna).

“He’s come here (to the Premier League) and not played in many games, but I like the player.”

Perez wants to leave Arsenal this summer.

Asked if the striker’s future lay elsewhere last week, Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said: “Yes, because we have a congestion of strikers.

“I don’t like to lose him, because, for me, he’s a top-quality striker, but we have many strikers.”

A report in Perez’s native Spain last night claimed that Newcastle were close to a deal for the 28-year-old.