Newcastle manager Rafa Benitez has demanded a transfer kitty of £80m from owner Mike Ashley, as West Ham step up their efforts to pry him away from St James’ Park, according to a report.

The Standard claims that Benitez is top of the shortlist to replace David Moyes at the London Stadium and that the club are set to make an official approach.

Benitez has a year left on his contract and it would cost West Ham £6million in compensation, but the report also claims that Benitez has set out his demands to stay – £80m to spend in the summer.

Football Insider verdict:

If Newcastle fans think they hate Mike Ashley already, it will be nothing compared to the fury the owner will face if Benitez goes to West Ham because he refuses to open his purse. And it looks unlikely that Benitez will get what he wants. The £80m seems to have come from the upper end of the profits made by Newcastle last season, but a report in the Telegraph says Benitez will only get part of this for his summer spending. That’s not going to be good enough and with West Ham set to make an official approach, Benitez holds all the cards. He wouldn’t want to walk away from St James’ Park – he’s already proved his loyalty – but he can only do so much with limited cash and he might prefer to go somewhere that matches his vision. If he does go it will be a huge loss for Newcastle and the value of the club will surely plummet too. That’s the one bit of hope for Newcastle fans, with Ashley only caring about his bottom line and the money he can get when he finally sells the club. For Newcastle fans, it can’t come soon enough.

In other Newcastle United news, there is desperation behind-the-scenes at St James’ Park as the club fear for their senior figure.

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