Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley used Magpies number nine Joelinton as a ‘bargaining chip’ in contract talks with former boss Rafael Benitez last summer, according to journalist Luke Edwards.
The Spaniard left the north east giants at the expiration of his contract after failing to make headway in talks with Ashley and managing director Lee Charnley, and Edwards has now shed some light on the Brazilian’s role in those talks.
“No wonder Rafa Benitez rejected the chance to sign him in January last year, no wonder the wily old Spaniard was unimpressed when owner Mike Ashley tried to use the arrival of the Brazilian as a bargaining chip in those doomed-to-fail new contract talks in the summer,” he wrote on the Daily Telegraph website.
“Of course, Rafa knew this would happen… except that is not entirely true. Benitez rated Joelinton and felt like he would be a good signing, he just did not want to spend £40m because he wanted to spread the money out more, to use it to bolster other positions rather than just centre-forward.”
It seems that what Edwards is saying is that Benitez wouldn’t have minded signing Joelinton, he just preferred to bring Salomon Rondon in permanently for less than £40million, and to then use the remaining money to strengthen other areas of the Newcastle squad. For Ashley, though, who had set his sights on his shiny new toy, that was never going to wash. It’s not that Benitez thought Joelinton was a bad player, per say, just that he didn’t want to spend £40million on him. The wisdom of that particular stance has been borne out so far this season. It appears that Ashley brought Joelinton into Benitez’s contract talks thinking his impending arrival would entice the former Liverpool chief to sign a new contract. In actuality, it had the opposite effect. That simply speaks to the mind-numbing lack of tact possessed by Mr Ashley. Even after three and a half years, he didn’t know who he was dealing with.