Rafa Benitez reckons investors should be queuing up to buy Newcastle from Mike Ashley
8th December 2018

Toon owner Ashley revealed this week that talks over a sale are progressing with front-runners, a consortium led by former Manchester United and Chelsea chief executive Peter Kenyon.

And boss Benitez made his own pitch to potential buyers by listing his four reasons why the club is a perfect purchase…

1. They are a top-six Premier League side in waiting.

2. The Toon is a one-club city.

3. St James’ Park is almost always a 52,000 sell-out.

4. The North East is a hotbed of talent.

Benitez, 58, admits these are also all the reasons why he agreed to manage the Magpies in March 2016.

And he is sure that, with the right investment, it will not take much to get Newcastle back among football’s European elite.

The Spaniard said: “It’s very clear it has the potential to be one of the top sides. For me, it has to be in the top six or top eight, easily.

“I’ve seen some people criticising the North East but it’s an area with great potential.

“You go to Madrid and you have four or five teams at the maximum level. You go to Milan and it’s the same.

“But this club is the only one here in this region, which is so big you can attract anyone.

“Napoli is similar to Newcastle in terms of everyone supporting one club in the city. It’s positive and unique when you have that.

“I think we’re something like 99 per cent capacity at home games here every week. It means that everybody cares about football.

“There’s the claim we don’t produce any players through the academy system — but that’s not true.

"We have so many kids around who love football and they’d be really pleased to be in a top side like this.

“Doing the right things at the right time, you have the potential to be in the top six and to go to Europe.

“You don’t have too many big cities around with massive clubs. So I can see the potential and the fact that it’s a great opportunity — but it doesn’t depend on me.

“If I am here it’s because I can see this potential, too.”

If Benitez is to be the manager who gets to realise that potential, a change of ownership must happen sooner rather than later.

The former Liverpool chief’s contract expires at the end of the season and he is unwilling to sign a new one because Ashley’s ambition does not match his own.

But Benitez added: “My job is to concentrate on what we can do now and to make sure the team stays in the Premier League — and that will make it easier to attract anyone.”

Further down the line, Benitez admits he would like to be involved in the running of a club himself – albeit in a lower league.

He said: “I am still a manager and I like to manage so I don’t want to buy any club.

“But in the future, I would like to maybe be involved in a small club and give them some advice.

“As a professional who came from school teaching, I like the academy and I like the young players — to improve them, to teach them.

“I like to see players coming through the system, coming into the first team and teaching them the principles of the game.”

Right now, Benitez’s focus is on the crunch clash with Wolves — a side who have impressed him since their return to the top flight.

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