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opportunity is there ready to splash cash.

Attempts were made in October - at an Italian meal in Ponteland - for Ashley and Benitez to resolve the longstanding contract issue for the manager - but no new deal has been signed since.

Benitez does not feel there is any point talking about a new contract until after the transfer window has closed.

By then he will know how committed the club were in the January window and whether his request to sign at least three new players was sanctioned.

The window is now reaching a critical stage with just 10 days to do business but Benitez is trying to stay calm about the transfer situation.

When asked at his press conference on Friday about transfers, he said: "I am not optimistic, I am not pessimistic, I am in the middle."

Newcastle waited until the last week of the January trading period to bring in their winter signings laster term with Kenedy not arriving until January 23 and Martin Dubravka and Islam Slimani coming even later from Sparta Prague and Leicester City respectively.

The executive Ashley need to the training for a Lee What is clear is Benitez retains his power to one extent in the boardroom.

Talk Dennis Wise was back in the frame at United has been dismissed by both the club and the unpopular for- mer Wimbledon midfielder.

However, while Benitez cannot control his transfer cash pot he has the final say on who is signed and who is not, meaning Wise or anybody else can recommend as many players as they want but the Spaniard can reject those suggestions.

feeling at level is and Benitez sit down at ground meeting Ryder The crazy thing is Ashley has ploughed thousands of pounds into airfares for his scouting team between September and late December with trips to Italy, Spain, Holland, Belgium, Romania, Hungary, France, Norway and Denmark all accounted for - but none of the targets who were shortlisted have signed so far this January.

Newcastle also paid for their head of recruitment Steve Nickson to fly out to Atlanta for talks on Miguel Almiron but, after a bid of $20million, that deal has hit the buffers and United are yet to return with a higher offer.

Agent fees, wages and the age of certain targets remain an issue.

However, if Ashley does not act in the window and Newcastle are relegated he cannot say he was not warned by the man he put in charge of football business.

January trading in their winter laster term not arriving 23 Martin and later Sparta and City clear is retains his extent in the However, cannot cash final the The Ashley The feeling at executive level is Ashley and Benitez need to sit down at the training ground for a meeting Lee Ryder

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Mike Ashley watches Newcastle against Cardiff at St James' Park on Saturday

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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Date:Jan 22, 2019
Words:475
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