Boss still in dark over January budget

Predicted Newcastle XI vs Swansea

Predicted Newcastle XI vs Swansea

Of course, we've been here before.

Benitez spoke to Ashley - who returned from a holiday in the United States of America this week - last month.

Benitez had hoped to sign a player this week. He (Ashley) knows he has to improve the team so that we have the quality which allows us to stay in the Premier League.

Speaking ahead of Saturday's visit of bottom-of-the-table Swansea, Benitez remained typically coy when asked about Newcastle's chances of strengthening their squad before the end of January's transfer deadline.

Benitez has become used to missing out on some of his top targets at Newcastle, with their track record in the transfer window not encouraging.

Listening at the back was Keith Bishop, a PR advisor who is close to Ashley.

"We can consider selling players who are not playing because as I have said before, (Jamie) Sterry and (Jack) Colback, we are not using and they need to play".

"But the others? We can not sell them because the others are already playing. We still have some weeks to go, and have to keep working to try to do our best".

But did he know his budget?

"Rafa Benitez is working with what is essentially a Championship squad", he said.

Predicted Swansea XI vs Newcastle
Predicted Swansea XI vs Newcastle

'If someone would come and could buy, then we would have extra money to go to the market.

There's a stand-off, of sorts, and Benitez's patience is wearing thin.

As things stand, Ashley remains the sole source of transfer capital, but while the Sports Direct boss appears determined to keep his cheque book in his pocket, Benitez denies that the ongoing uncertainty regarding a possible takeover is having an adverse effect on the day-to-day running of the club.

So why the delay?

The Spaniard is likely to be frustrated with his side's lack of movement so far but it seems that's set to change this weekend, with The Daily Mail stating yesterday that Newcastle will open talks with Yannick Toure in the next 24 hours. He kept a lid on his frustrations.

"It is not a question of needing to sell to buy".

Ashley, however, would rather Benitez sold before he bought.

Kenedy, linked with Locomotiv Moscow, is also wanted by a number of other clubs.

If he can't find a buyer over the coming months, it's hard to see Benitez, one of European football's most respected coaches, seeing out his contract at the club.

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