Noel Whelan claims that Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley wants to finally sell club amid the ongoing takeover speculation.

The former Leeds United striker, speaking exclusively to Football Insider assistant editor Russell Edge, insists it is time for the Sports Direct supremo to hand over the reins at St James’ Park.

Talk of a potential takeover has intensified over recent days with The Telegraph reporting that the Premier League have been made aware of a bid led by the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia.

The Athletic’s George Caulkin has since stated Ashley’s reign “has never been closer to ending” and the Daily Mail report that the proposed investors are “hopeful” of a deal being done.

Whelan believes now is the right time for a change at St James’ Park and suggests Ashley is finally wanting to sell up.

Whelan told Football Insider: “I think the fans want it, I think Mike Ashley wants that but he’s got to be sensible about what he’s asking for the football club as well, he’s got to do the right thing for the football club.

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“That’s the right thing to do, you’ve got to sell to someone who can take this club further because it’s been at a stalemate. The club haven’t really progressed.

“They’ve done exceptionally well to stay afloat in the Premier League. The problems Rafael Benitez had, he did an excellent job there, and Steve Bruce has taken over a difficult job there.

Newcastle United manager Steve Bruce with Wolves boss Nuno Espirito Santo

“There’s not a great deal of money available, that you keep talking about other Premier League teams have got. If you’re going to get Newcastle challenging, being that team that everyone loved to watch, like under Kevin Keegan, you’ve got to sell up.

“Give it to someone that’s going to love it, give it to someone that’s going to take the club forward, give it to someone who’s going to bring in those flair players that Newcastle are famous for. That’s what I’d like to see, this has grumbled on for far too long.”

In other Newcastle United news, Bruce has been tipped to sign an England international and build his side around him this summer.