Rafa: It’s to win big
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