By North-east correspondent Harry Sykes

Rafael Benitez has claimed it has been “impossible” to sign players before the start of pre-season friendlies because of Euro 2016.

The Championship side are yet to make any signings this summer despite Benitez claiming earlier in the week that the club are close to clinching four different deals.

Benitez has total control over the Magpies’ recruitment but revealed that transfer timings are out of his hands.

“I would like to have the squad ready and start working with them on 1 July,” he told BBC Radio Newcastle, as quoted by the BBC Sports website. “With modern agents and the Euros, a lot have gone and aren’t working.

“I’m surprised that it’s summer and the transfer window is open and some technical directors are away.

“For me as a manager it’s too late to get the squad that I want but in reality [for transfers] it is too early.”

Benitez signed an updated three-year contract to stay in charge, despite the Magpies suffering relegation from the Premier League last season.

The 56-year-old said the club were close to three or four deals but would have to be patient.

“We have three or four things ready” said Benitez, as quoted by the Daily Star. “It’s not easy because the market prices are high but we are fine. I think we can do it in one week. It’s really nearly there.”

Benitez has said no player will leave the club without his approval but a number of senior players, including Moussa Sissoko and Georginio Wijnaldum, have expressed their desire to quit the relegated outfit.

Andros Townsend could also leave St James’ Park as he weighs up offers from a number of top-flight teams.

As reported by Football Insider, Benitez, 56 is targeting players with Championship experience rather than recruiting from the higher leagues in an effort to secure an instant Premier League return.

Fulham striker Ross McCormack and Reading midfielder Danny Williams are believed to be among his top targets.

Benitez has managed 12 teams throughout his career including Real Madrid, Liverpool, Inter Milan and Napoli.

Over the last 28 years he has won the Champions League, Europa League and La Liga as well as another 14 trophies with various clubs.

In other Newcastle news, the Magpies are eyeing a loan move for a West Ham wonderkid.