A report yesterday raised fans’ hopes that an agreement was close between Rafa Benitez and Newcastle United.
The story in the Shields Gazette stated Ashley was ready to sit down with Rafa, and shake hands on a deal. But crucially, the article also admitted that Lee Charnley still had to put a deal together first.
So, in essence, the status quo remains, and no deal has been struck. The position has always been the same – Ashley wants Charnley to conduct negotiations on his behalf.
The story claims both sides are “reluctant to part company”, but the obstacles could force talks to continue into next week.
It adds that any agreement will be ratified face to face by Ashley, who will sign written guarantees regarding any promises made.
Rafa wants final say on transfers
A budget of £50 million this summer has been suggested, plus any finances generated from player sales. But it is the freedom of who Rafa can sign that is the stumbling block so far.
He wants to bring in experienced players – regardless of age – whereas Ashley wants to revert to signing under-25 prospects only.
Certainly, as has been reported by this publication many times, the situation needs to be resolved immediately. The longer the saga is drawn out, the more catch-up the club have to play.
Targets who have been extensively scouted are likely to move elsewhere, and agents will be offering their players around other clubs.
Salomón Rondón is a case in point. He is desperate to sign for Newcastle, but how long can he possibly wait?
He will be playing in the Copa America soon, but would ideally have wanted his future sorted before then.
Other clubs are circling, and it will come as no surprise to fans, if news filters out that he is signing for a Premier League rival.
For the sake of the club, a definitive decision is vital – even if it is not good news.