Rafa wants to move quickly with trans­fers

Sunday Sun - - Football - Lee Ry­der

New­cas­tle United boss Rafa Ben­itez is aim­ing to put the Mag­pies into the po­si­tion of max­i­mum op­por­tu­nity in the Jan­uary trans­fer win­dow.

The Toon boss is de­ter­mined to strike early and wants to get at least two sign­ings on board within the first fort­night of 2019.

Ben­itez was left frus­trated in the last win­ter win­dow as the Mag­pies made a slow start to busi­ness, sign­ing Kenedy in the third week of the month and Martin Dubravka and Is­lam Sli­mani on dead­line day.

And while the sea­son turned out well – with Kenedy and Dubravka prov­ing to be suc­cesses – Ben­itez felt United took a risk.

Ben­itez has made the sign­ings of full-back cover and a new winger a pri­or­ity – but there is grow­ing con­fi­dence that a striker could also be added to that list.

United’s Academy are also un­der­stood to have a new sign­ing lined up to add to the club’s youth ranks.

Ben­itez is close to sub­mit­ting his fi­nal short­list for Jan­uary with Toon scouts set to carry out fi­nal checks on some tar­gets over the next week or so.

New­cas­tle’s pur­suit of At­lanta United star Miguel Almiron is still very real at this stage and Ben­itez wants to see the club get in the box seat for his sig­na­ture ahead of West Ham, Tot­ten­ham Hot­spur and Arse­nal.

The club’s hi­er­ar­chy have been told in great de­tail about the ex­act pack­age it would take to sign Almiron - and if talks be­tween At­lanta and head of re­cruit­ment Steve Nick­son go well he could even ar­rive in the North-East in late De­cem­ber.

How­ever, one fear be­hind the scenes is whether Mike Ash­ley will be pre­pared to break the trans­fer record to sign the £25mil­lion-rated player.

Ben­itez has been left frus­trated be­fore by the club’s re­luc­tance to splash out a big fee on a sin­gle player with the pref­er­ence from the United’s top brass to sign a clutch of play­ers with avail­able funds.

Ash­ley has in­di­cated that funds are in the bank for new play­ers in Jan­uary but how much he will stretch to re­mains to be seen.

One thing is for cer­tain is that Ben­itez has done ev­ery­thing he can to en­sure New­cas­tle get the play­ers they need in the new year.

His scouts have been tak­ing in up to three games a day over re­cent week­ends with an in­cred­i­ble amount of air miles and re­search put in by Toon tal­ent spot­ters.

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