Rafa Benitez reacts to a '˜difficult' start to the transfer window for Newcastle

Rafa Benitez has labelled this summer's transfer window as 'difficult'.

Saturday, 7th July 2018, 6:34 am
Updated Monday, 16th July 2018, 3:52 pm
Rafa Benitez. Picture by Frank Reid

Newcastle United have signed two players – Martin Dubravka and Ki Sung-yueng – so far this summer.

Benitez also wants to sign at least one winger, a striker and defensive cover before the window closes on August 9.

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The club has had a bid for Alassane Plea rejected by Nice, who have slapped a £26million price tag on the striker.

Salomon Rondon is another option for the club.

Manager Benitez – who has been involved in a stand-off with owner Mike Ashley over his budget and contract – has been working during the close season.

Asked how he spent his summer, Benitez said: “As I normally do, working.

“I was in England, in Liverpool. I went to visit my family, a weekend in Spain, but the rest of the time in Liverpool, working, working hard, trying to do the same in this difficult transfer window, to work hard and do our best.”

Midfielder Mikel Merino is set to join Real Sociedad after the Spanish club activated his release clause.

Benitez – whose players yesterday reported back to the club for the start of pre-season training – says the club had been planning for the 22-year-old’s departure.

“To be fair, we knew about the interest of Spanish teams in Mikel Merino, and his release clause, so we were trying to be sure we had an option, a player like Ki, a player with quality, with experience in the Premier League,” Benitez told NUFC TV.

Newcastle’s players will head to Dublin next week for a training camp and friendly against St Patrick’s Athletic on July 17.

Meanwhile, the Pavel Cup charity match will be played at Dunston UTS tomorrow. A number of former Newcastle players will take part in the game, which kicks off at 1.30pm. Admission is £8 for adults and £4 for children.