Mike Ashley’s public plans to sell Newcastle United are nothing but a means to stave off spending in the January transfer window, sources close to the club have revealed.
The Sports Direct owner says he wants the club off his hands by Christmas, according to the Newcastle Chronicle.
But it could simply be a case of history repeating itself, with ownership speculation meaning the chairman won’t have to put his hands in his pocket when the transfer window opens again on New Years Day.
Newcastle boss Rafael Benítez slammed Mike Ashley in the summer for revising down his ambitious plans for the club.
Just £35 million was invested in low-key acquisitions, which is less than newly-promoted counterparts Huddersfield Town.
Benitez met with head of recruitment Steve Nickson on Monday and made no secret of the fact that he is looking to recruit heavily in the next transfer window.
But owner Ashley may be using well-worn tactics to deny the Spaniard the chance to splash the club’s Premier League windfall, instead pocketing the fee as part of a club sale ruse.
As the Independent’s Martin Hardy wrote here, most Toon fans are in fantasy land over a prospective sale to Amanda Staveley.
The part supporters do not really want to hear, “remains the possibility that January could still see Benitez having to fight to get hold of somewhere shy of £20 million, with the possibility of trading in Aleksandar Mitrovic (no takers last time) or Dwight Gayle. It may feel more like the summer than a brave new world.
“It is why the Spaniard is keeping his head down and working his socks off on the training ground, for that is the most likely place where any significant improvement or change for Newcastle United lies.”