Rafa Benitez spells out Newcastle’s need for a striker – as Mike Ashley explains his position

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

Rafa Benitez reiterated the need for Newcastle United to sign a striker this summer – after Mike Ashley revealed why he couldn’t put any money into the club.

Benitez is desperate to sign a striker before the transfer window closes at the end of the month.

The club has signed five players so far this summer at a cost of just over £30milion.

Benitez spoke on Wednesday of his frustration at United’s failure to sign a number of targets earlier this summer.

While other Premier League teams have been able to spend £25million-plus on one player in an inflated market, Benitez has had to pursue cheaper options.

And the £13.5million price tag Arsenal have slapped on target Lucas Perez is, for the moment, beyond United.

If you see the squad, it’s obvious that we need a striker. We needed to bring some players in some positions to have competition.

Rafa Benitez

Asked about the need to sign a striker this summer, Benitez said: “If you see the squad, it’s obvious that we need a striker.

“We needed to bring some players in some positions to have competition.

“Dwight (Gayle) was doing really well last year. But it’s another level and we have to see if he can replicate something similar in the Premier League. We need competition in each position.

“Not just because they will be better, but we need bodies. You have to be sure that you have enough quality to keep the level.”

Benitez must choose between Dwight Gayle and Aleksandar Mitrovic for tomorrow’s season-opener against Tottenham Hotspur.

Gayle scored 23 goals in the Championship last season.

And the 27-year-old – who missed last Sunday’s friendly against Hellas Verona because of hamstring problem – is expected to be fit for the game.

“He’s OK – he’s training,” said Benitez.

Meanwhile, Ashley, the club’s owner, has given an extraordinary interview about the club’s finances.

Ashley told Sky Sports: “Every penny the club generates, he (Benitez) can have, but it won’t generate enough.

“It’s Newcastle United. It doesn’t have a £40million-a-year stadium naming rights deal, it doesn’t.

“So I don’t want the fans to watch this interview and think ‘that’s great, Rafa’s getting £150million in the morning’. He’s not.

“With (United managing director) Lee Charnley’s help – and Lee answers to Rafa, not the other way around, so we’re crystal clear – Rafa makes all the final decisions on the players out and the players in, but he has to do it with the money the club has.

“If you say to me I’m wealthy. Well, OK. In theory I’m a whatever, a billionaire, maybe even a multi-billionaire, but in reality my wealth is in Sports Direct shares, which, as I said the other week, are like wallpaper.

“I don’t have that cash in the bank, so I don’t have that ability to right a cheque for £200million.
“I don’t have it. It’s very simple, it’s not there.”