By Dominic Toner
Newcastle are still in the transfer market for up to five new players, according to Southend manager Phil Brown.
The two sides met on Tuesday in a pre-season game on Tuesday with Newcastle winning 2-0, thanks to goals from Vernon Anita and Yoan Gouffran.
“I’ve just spoken with Rafa (Benitez)– he came into the dressing room not for a beer, just for a chat,” Brown told the Chronicle.“He’s just said to me that he still wants to bring four or five players in and yet you look at the squad there and he can boast what 22 to 24 players in the squad here and every one of them can play in the Championship
“But he wants better, he wants to get promoted, he wants to finish first, which is every Newcastle fan’s dream to finish as champions of the league.”
Newcastle have just one pre-season fixture left against Dutch outfit Vitesse before they open their Championship season against Fulham on 5 August.
They have been installed by most bookmakers as favourites for the title after their impressive transfer business and their ability of holding on to experienced manager Rafa Benitez.
Benitez has already signed Premier League stars Matt Ritchie and Dwight Gayle for £10million each, whilst Blackburn captain Grant Hanley joined for £5.5million.
Belgian goalkeeper Matz Sels put pen to paper for £5million, whilst Arsenal’s Isaac Hayden and Atletico Madrid’s Champions League defender Jesus Gamez look to beef up the Magpies’ defence.
The former Liverpool manager is desperate to return the North East side to the Premier League after last season’s relegation, and The Mirror reported that Benitez has most recently been linked with Tottenham playmaker Alex Pritchard.
Benitez will be preparing his squad for his first taste of the Championship and it will seem quite different from his days as Real Madrid boss.
In other Newcastle transfer news, their attacker is a surprise target for Spanish league champions Barcelona.