Rafael Benitez has spoken out about his exit from Newcastle, and one detail he revealed about Joelinton is very concerning indeed.
The Spaniard has hit back at claims from managing director Lee Charnley, who said in Sunday’s match-day programme that the club offered Benitez the best deal they could, but he left to earn more money in China.
In a heartfelt column in The Athletic, Benitez wrote: “Newcastle’s board had a year to sort out my contract but, when we met after the end of last season, they didn’t make me an offer I could accept.
“They told me they didn’t want to invest in the academy or the training ground — if they like, I can explain the reason why Mike Ashley refused to do that.
“Their idea of a project was a policy of signing players under 24 and, in my opinion, the budget available was not enough to compete for the top 10.
“After that meeting, I knew they would not come back with a serious offer and, when it arrived, 19 days later, it was for the same salary as three years earlier and with less control over signings.
“Charnley’s comments in the programme about having a deal agreed for Joelinton in February explains a lot that I couldn’t understand at that time.
“After three years of unfulfilled promises, I didn’t trust them.”
As if it needed confirming, Benitez’s comments align with the suspicions of the Toon Army that managers at St. James’ Park are not in charge of transfers.
The club agreed to sign Joelinton in February, Charnley claims, yet Benitez was clearly not impressed, as one has to imagine he would have stayed if it was his target they were breaking their transfer record on, rather than the club’s target.
That also begs the question of whether Steve Bruce, who arrived this summer some months after Charnley says a deal was set, will get the best out of the Brazilian, as the 58 year-old was not in the loop about the club’s record arrival.
Splashing out £40m, almost double the previous record signing Miguel Almiron, without even involving the side’s manager is downright ludicrous.
This is not to say it is unusual for clubs to have the final say on incoming players over the man in the dugout, but it is certainly unusual to double your record signing on a player the manager had no influence in wanting or signing.
For example, imagine if Liverpool were to double their record deal to sign Virgil van Dijk and splash out £150m on a new superstar, except that superstar is someone Jurgen Klopp has no interest in and had no influence in signing. It doesn’t bear thinking about. It doesn’t seem believable. It’s utterly ridiculous.
On Tyneside however, it seems to be the norm.