Benitez: I had to beg Newcastle to sign this player
By Matt Farr
Newcastle manager Rafa Benitez has revealed how he persuaded Lee Charnley to stump up the cash to land Matt Ritchie last summer.
The 27-year-old signed from Bournemouth in a £12million deal at the start of the season, but Benitez has admitted the price tag was more than he or anyone else at Newcastle had expected.
However, the Scotland international has proved to be worth every penny with a series of stunning displays over the course of the season, where he has contributed 15 goals and 10 assists from 45 appearances.
Speaking about his pursuit of the player, Benitez told the Chronicle: “Lee Charnley was phoning me to say the ‘price is that’ and we were not expecting that.
“I was saying ‘please, he is an important player, he has experience, we have to do it we cannot be worrying about a couple of million when we are in this position where we have to get out of this division.’
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“That means you have to spend more than we were expecting but I think we did really well and have a good team and we are making a profit (from player sales) so everything was perfect.”
Charnley is the current managing director at Newcastle, and has a big influence on the club’s business in the transfer market.
But he should have few complaints about Benitez’s push to see the club spend big money on Ritchie last summer, given the winger’s performances since pulling on the Newcastle jersey.
However, it has not always been plain sailing for Benitez in the transfer market, with the club board proving reluctant to meet his demands in the past.
Newcastle had struggled to complete a deal to bring Andros Townsend back to the club during the January transfer window, for example, despite Benitez making him his top target.
In other Newcastle transfer news, the club have been dealt a significant blow in their reported pursuit of a PL defender.