Newcastle United

Mike Ashley must keep Rafa Benitez at St James’ by breaking the bank for £13.5m-rated striker

The Newcastle United fans in the Transfer Tavern are growing increasingly concerned by speculation relating to Rafa Benitez’s future at the club, and they are hoping he will sign a new deal in the coming weeks. 

Rafa Benitez masterminded Newcastle’s climb away from the relegation zone in the final months of the season which saw them rise to a respectable 10th place finish after teetering nervously above the bottom-three for the first-half of the campaign. He managed to achieve the club’s ultimate goal and exceed expectation without splashing the cash in the transfer market, so with a proper transfer war chest it’s fair to say that a push for Europa League football would be on the cards.

However, without a transfer war chest, the Magpies could be staring down the barrel of relegation, as it’s unlikely that Benitez will remain at St James’ Park without proper backing from Mike Ashley this summer. Newcastle’s owner has consistently failed to sufficiently invest in new players throughout his time as owner of the club, and that fact their transfer record dates back to when they signed Michael Owen in 2005 serves to illuminate the clear lack of investment on Tyneside.

If Newcastle want to progress as a club then Ashley must change his ways by providing Benitez with a generous transfer budget – providing he doesn’t sell the club to Amanda Staveley of course. Benitez’s first port of call will presumably be securing the signature of a new striker, and recent reports from Goal suggest he could have a fantastic opportunity to sign Alassane Plea from OG Nice this summer.

According to the report, Plea (valued at £13.5 million by Transfermarkt) has strongly suggested that he will leave the the club during the transfer window and, if that proves to be the case, Benitez should certainly be making an enquiry about bringing him to Newcastle. So far this season Plea has managed to score 14 goals in Ligue 1 and provide 5 assists from 33 appearances.

Newcastle have had bad luck with players who have joined the club from Ligue 1 in the past, but Plea’s style of play suggests he could become a huge success in the North-East; he is physically strong, creative in possession and a deadly finisher, so he should have no problem adapting to English football.

There’s no obvious reason why he cannot replicate his fine form in France in the Premier League next season, so Ashley simply has to prove his ambition to Benitez by breaking the club’s transfer record to secure his signature this summer, as it’s unlikely Nice will be willing to sell for anything less than the £16 million Newcastle paid for Owen 13 years ago.

Newcastle fans – thoughts? Let us know below!

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