Rafa Benitez: We want to finish getting Newcastle squad together – as quickly as possible

Newcastle's manager Rafa Benitez.
Newcastle's manager Rafa Benitez.

Rafa Benitez is hoping Newcastle United can quickly push through the rest of their transfer business – so he can finalise his starting XI for the new season.

Grant Hanley yesterday became the club’s sixth summer signing.

The defender joined from Blackburn Rovers after Newcastle had a £5.5million bid accepted by their Championship rivals.

But there will also be outgoings at St James’s Park between now and the end of the transfer window given the need to size of the squad.

Midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum is set to undergo a medical at Liverpool today ahead of a £25million move to Anfield.

And £35milion-rated Moussa Sissoko, due to report back to the club on August 1, wants to follow Wijnaldum out of the door.

We want to finish getting the squad together as quickly as possible.

Rafa Benitez

United manager Rafa Benitez – whose side take on Belgian side Sporting Lokeren tomorrow – is keen for some certainty ahead of the club’s season-opener against Fulham at Craven Cottage on August 5.

“We want to finish getting the squad together as quickly as possible,” said Benitez.

“Then we can start thinking about what we want to do with the team. You want your team to be sorted as soon as possible, but at the moment, we are still having to wait and see what is going to happen with a few things.

“Little by little we are getting there though, and we will soon be at a point where we have to start finalising the team that will play against Fulham.

“Soon, we will have to be saying, ‘OK, this could be the team that starts’.”

With 25-year-old Wijnaldum’s departure set to be confirmed, the focus will switch to the future of Sissoko, who made it clear he wants to leave the club in the wake of its relegation from the Premier League.

Juventus and Everton were yesterday linked with the 26-year-old midfielder, who was a Euro 2016 finalist with France.

A second of travelling Newcastle fans chanted “Moussa Sissoko, we want you to go” during Wednesday night’s 2-2 draw against League Two Doncaster Rovers at the Keepmoat Stadium.

Asked about Sissoko’s future, Benitez said: “He will report back like everybody else has, and then we will go from there. We will see him on the first of August, but until then it is not really worth talking about anything because he is not here.”