Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley has promised Rafa Benitez a transfer kitty of over £100m if the Spaniard signs a three-year deal with the club, according to the Sun.
The same paper reports that Tottenham’s negotiations with Aston Villa over Jack Grealish are not close to being done as the Champions League outfit are only willing to bid £20m.
The Sun claim that Ashley is so keen to end his current stand-off with Benitez that he has offered the staggering incentive of a monster budget, tearing up the current approach where the former Real Madrid manager is forced to sell before he can buy.
However, they say that Benitez is suspicious that he is yet to sign the deal and could leave himself in a position where he runs down his current deal and gets no cash injections from Ashley at all.
They also say that another frugal owner, Daniel Levy, is struggling to make progress in his attempts to sign Grealish as he is unwilling to go over £20m, given Villa’s dire financial situation.
Of course, it is easy to dismiss Ashley’s promises as transparent but imagine that Benitez is suitably convinced that he extends his contract and goes into August armed with a nine-figure transfer budget.
Given Tottenham’s tendency to take transfer deals to the wire, it would not be a surprise if Grealish was still on the market and the lure of playing under Benitez and for a huge, historic club could turn his head.
The feeling persists that 5ft 9in Grealish is not quite good enough for the top six just yet but he appears to be an old-school romantic player with great respect for the country’s great teams; Villa is one and Newcastle are another.
He could be another Gazza-type figure, adding much-needed midfield creativity from deep positions and the ability to beat a man and get the Geordies off their seats on a regular basis.