Ben­itez tar­gets ex­tra fire­power for Toon at­tack

BOSS AIMS TO ADD ‘TWO OR THREE’ PLAY­ERS

The Chronicle - - Nufc - By CHRIS WAUGH chris.waugh@trin­i­tymir­ror.com @ChrisDHWaugh

NUFC Writer RAFA Ben­itez is tar­get­ing “two or three” of­fen­sive play­ers dur­ing the fi­nal few weeks of the trans­fer win­dow – and he ad­mits re­cruit­ing a striker re­mains a pri­or­ity for New­cas­tle United.

The Mag­pies missed out on top tar­get Alas­sane Plea af­ter the 25-year-old French­man joined Borus­sia Monchenglad­bach from Nice for £22m yes­ter­day, two weeks af­ter United saw a £20m bid re­jected by the Ligue 1 out­fit.

West Bromwich Al­bion for­ward Salomon Ron­don, who has a £16.5m re­lease clause in his con­tract, re­mains on United’s radar – but the Mag­pies are yet to agree a deal for the Bag­gies striker and New­cas­tle have other back-up op­tions in mind.

There is still a chance Ben­itez could look to bring more than one for­ward through the door, though ac­quir­ing even one is prov­ing tricky enough at the mo­ment.

Kenedy did be­come United’s third sign­ing of the sum­mer ear­lier this week af­ter re-join­ing from Chelsea on a sea­son-long loan deal, with the winger hav­ing been a pri­or­ity tar­get since be­fore the win­dow even be­gan.

The Brazil­ian fol­lowed Ki Sungyueng, who ar­rived from Swansea City on a free trans­fer at the be­gin­ning of the month, and Martin Dubravka – who com­pleted a £4m per­ma­nent move from Sparta Prague af­ter the goal­keeper’s suc­cess­ful loan spell on Ty­ne­side.

But Ben­itez is still keen for at least an­other four ad­di­tions to ar­rive – with a striker, a winger and an at­tack­ing-mid­fielder on his wanted list, along with cover at right-back and in de­fence.

For­mer New­cas­tle winger An­dros Townsend re­mains on United’s radar, though the Crys­tal Palace wide­man is only likely to sign if Matt Ritchie joins Stoke City, but Ben­itez has a host of other tar­gets in mind, too.

“There are some po­si­tions we have to im­prove, not just a striker,” Ben­itez replied when asked if sign­ing a for­ward was still a pri­or­ity fol­low­ing the 1892 Foun­da­tion Cup at the club’s Academy. “We have [to sign] two or three more of­fen­sive play­ers, and also we need a back-up in de­fence, or to im­prove the de­fence a lit­tle bit.”

In­ter­est­ingly, al­though Ben­itez is pleased with the three sign­ings New­cas­tle have made so far, he be­lieves United are merely “in the start­ing po­si­tion again” given that Kenedy and Dubravka were al­ready on Ty­ne­side last term, while Ki has ar­rived as a like-for­like re­place­ment for Mikel Merino, who has joined Real So­ciedad for £10m.

Now he wants to see progress be­ing made to im­prove not only the first XI, but his squad as a whole, given that he has had to call up four play­ers from the Un­der23s to bol­ster the num­bers out in the Repub­lic of Ire­land for the Mag­pies’ week-long train­ing camp.

“We have plenty of work [still to do]. The point is not how many [sign­ings] we have done,” Ben­itez added.

“We have to im­prove the team, and that means im­prove the squad. At the mo­ment, we have the same play­ers, more or less, that we had be­fore. We are in the start­ing po­si­tion again.”

Rafa Ben­itez with Kenedy at United’s Ir­ish train­ing base

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