Rafa: It’s to win big

Sunday Sun - - Football - By An­drew Mus­grove Sports Writer an­drew.mus­[email protected]­plc.com

NEW­CAS­TLE United man­ager Rafa Ben­itez says he re­mains on Ty­ne­side be­cause he can see the ‘po­ten­tial’ of the club, and hopes any po­ten­tial in­vestors can too.

Owner Mike Ash­ley is thought to be closer than ever to sell­ing the club af­ter 11 years, with for­mer Manch­ester United and Chelsea chief-ex­ec­u­tive Peter Kenyon re­ported to be lead­ing a con­sor­tium who is now at the ‘data room’ stage of ne­go­ti­a­tions.

Ben­itez has re­mained tight-lipped on takeover talk af­ter Ash­ley’s in­ter­view with Sky News ear­lier this week, but ad­mits he can see why the club would be at­trac­tive to a buyer. “Yes, 100 per cent,” Ben­itez said. “Again I’d say it’s not my job to talk about this too much be­cause I don’t have the in­for­ma­tion, but as you say gen­er­ally 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. This club is the only one here in this re­gion, which is so big, you can at­tract any­one.

“There is 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, so you can at­tract any­one. Still, I can see the po­ten­tial.

“They were ask­ing me be­fore in an­other in­ter­view about my ex­pe­ri­ence in dif­fer­ent coun­tries and dif­fer­ent big cities. You go to Madrid, you have four or five teams at the max­i­mum level, you go to Milan and it’s the same. Napoli is sim­i­lar to New­cas­tle in terms of ev­ery­one sup­port­ing one club in the city. It’s pos­i­tive and unique when you have that.”

But for some in the game, United’s lo­ca­tion from Lon­don - 247 miles – has re­sulted in some say­ing that the club might fail to at­tract play­ers and the right buyer.

Yet for Ben­itez that claim does not ring true.

“I can see the great po­ten­tial, you don’t have too many big cities around

New­cas­tle United man­ager Rafael Ben­itez

New­cas­tle owner Mike Ash­ley is con­sid­er­ing four bids

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