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Newcastle’s biggest summer priority should be keeping Rafael Benitez

Josh Kerr

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Photo: Getty Images

With Newcastle fans crying out for a big budget for new heroes at St James’ Park this summer, their main priority remains to ensure unsung hero Rafael Benitez stays on Tyneside.

The Magpies are currently trying to persuade Benitez to extend his stay at St James’ Park as he prepares to enter the final year of his current contract, and ensuring subsequent funds are available will be crucial to the Spaniard committing his future.

However, funds remain a complicated equation for Newcastle by the fact that the club remains up for sale by controversial owner Mike Ashley.

Despite money struggles at the club, Benitez was recently shortlisted for the manager of the year accolade after ensuring Newcastle avoided the drop following their promotion from the Championship last season.

The Spaniard has not only secured safety at St James’ but sees the side sitting pretty in 10th place. It could be their best finish since 2012.

The former Liverpool manager was expected to be one of the strugglers in the league, but he has blown his doubters out of the water as Newcastle can now prepare for another season in the top flight with games still to spare.

Newcastle’s home form had become a problem for the Spanish manager this season. However, he quickly rallied his troops, inspiring them to crucial wins over Manchester United and Arsenal.

(Photo credit should read IAN KINGTON/AFP/Getty Images)

It is no surprise, then, that Benitez has been linked with the vacant Arsenal job after Arsene Wenger decided to call a day on his 22-year reign with the Gunners. However, according to the Daily Mail, Benitez has already undergone talks to remain with the club for another season.

The 58-year-old manager has secured the Magpies’ top-flight status without the real firepower of a top quality striker, with their leading scorer, Ayoze Perez, having managed only six Premier League goals.

Benitez was left frustrated, being forced to buy on the cheap when looking for a striker 12 months ago. He eventually settled on former Stoke front man Joselu, with the club paying just £5million for the Spaniard.

He will be fully aware that extra firepower will cost the Magpies more this summer.

It is paramount that Newcastle do everything in their power to satisfy the Tyneside hero if they are to kick-on and continue to improve next campaign.

If Benitez can comfortably secure Premier league football on a budget, it is scary to think what he could achieve if given the appropriate players to take the Magpies to next level.

I am a freelance sports journalist currently studying sports journalism at Staffordshire University with a passion for all things football. I'm a keen supporter of Liverpool Football Club, as well as my local side Forest Green Rovers. I've worked for online newspaper VAVEL UK as well as a media assistant for Chester FC in the Vanarama National League.

Newcastle United

Newcastle United fans divided after Nicolai Jorgensen performance

The Danish striker has long been linked with a move to Newcastle United.

Mathew Nash

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Denmark played out a 1-1 draw with Australia in the World Cup this afternoon. A controversial penalty was converted by Aston Villa midfielder Mile Jedinak to give the Socceroos a deserved draw against their European opponents. But the opening goal of the game might have been one of the best in the tournament so far.

Christian Eriksen smashed home a delicious left-foot half-volley to give the Danes the lead. However, it was the assist from a Newcastle United target that had fans talking on social media.

Nicolai Jorgensen played a brilliant reverse pass into the path of Eriksen. The Feyenoord striker has long been linked with Newcastle United. Over the weekend The Sun reported that Newcastle would need to pay £20 million for the player.

Newcastle were previously linked with the player in January, with a £15 million bid being rejected.

(Photo credit should read OLAF KRAAK/AFP/Getty Images)

That interest appears to have continued and it is easy to see why. Jorgensen was the Eredivisie’s top scorer in 2016-17, scoring 25 goals in 45 games.

But there is also a case suggesting he is not worth the money. He scored just 13 goals last season and against Peru in the opening game of the World Cup he struggled.

It is clear that scoring goals is not really his specialty. His link-up play is brilliant but some Newcastle fans feel he would simply not score goals in England.

Here is how Newcastle United fans reacted to his display…

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Newcastle United

Newcastle should move for Senegal star M’Baye Niang

Newcastle are looking for attacking additions this summer.

Jamie Watts

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Newcastle United are reportedly in the market for new forwards this summer, according to the Northern Echo, with Rafa Benitez identifying the Magpies’ attacking output as a key weakness last term, despite their impressive 10th place finish. And a new target should emerge from yesterday’s World Cup clash between Senegal and Poland.

The Africans surprisingly came away as victors, having been helped by two massive defensive errors from the European outfit, with Grzegorz Krychowiak’s late goal proving nothing more than a consolation.

Torino striker M’Baye Niang proved to be a thorn in the side of Poland all game, landing the man of the match award, as his pace and power proved too much for Thiago Rangel Cionek and accomplished right-back Lukasz Piszczek to deal with.

Photo: Getty Images

His shining moment came in the 60th minute, when he returned onto the field of play from injury and promptly latched onto a poor back-pass, eventually rounding the out-rushing Wojciech Szczesny and slotting into an empty net – notably scoring his first ever Senegal goal with his first shot on target.

And Newcastle should be keeping an eye on the 23-year-old throughout the tournament. Current targets such as Salomon Rondon and Jordan Ayew are underwhelming for fans and Rafa Benitez could look to make a statement by bringing in the former Watford loanee.

His physicality and raw speed suit the Premier League to a tee, and given regular playing-time the forward could become a sensation in England. However, he has recently agreed to join Torino on a permanent basis, meaning any deal would likely be a loan deal at the moment. A deal is still possible though, as Niang will be likely play second-fiddle to Andrea Belotti next term.

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English Premier League

Newcastle United’s move for Swansea City’s Jordan Ayew makes sense

The £13 million man would certainly improve the attack at Newcastle.

Jamie Watts

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Newcastle United are said to be lining up a move to land Swansea City’s talented forward Jordan Ayew this summer, as Rafa Benitez looks to bolster the attacking threat at St James’ Park next term, according to reports from Ghana Web.

The Ghanaian is said to be available for around £13 million after being relegated with the Swans last season and Newcastle are interested in securing his services, with the purse strings likely to be tight again on Tyneside in this window.

Although his goal-scoring record is far from prolific to date, with him having netted 11 goals in 44 appearances at the Liberty Stadium last campaign, the 26-year-old undoubtedly brings more than just goals to the table.

Photo: Getty Images

Despite lacking a physical presence in the centre of the attacking third, Ayew’s control and low centre of gravity allow him to gather the ball into his feet and turn defenders more often than not, with his stop-start acceleration also allowing him to breeze past defensive counterparts. And he looked both stylish and effective for Swansea all season, in a seriously struggling outfit.

Benitez is unlikely to revisit negotiations to land Chelsea loanee Kenedy again this window, as his parent club have slapped a hefty £20 million fee on his signature, and are reportedly not keen on the idea of another loan, according to the Chronicle. As a result further attacking additions are vital.

Photo: Getty Images

And Ayew would offer similar attributes to the Brazilian, despite plying his trade centrally. His balance and speed are reminiscent of Kenedy, and with Newcastle’s tendency to sit-deep against tough opposition, Ayew would offer the counter-attacking threat Kenedy gave them beyond January.

Ayew’s willingness to run the channels, and quality movement would give Newcastle an option to ease pressure on the defence, while his speed and quality on the ball would still allow for swift counterattacks seen towards the run in, dovetailing with the likes of Ayoze Perez and Dwight Gayle.

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