Chris Mort leads Newcastle United takeover talks with Justin Barnes as Rafa Benitez return 'lined up'

The Saudi Arabian-led consortium in talks over a £340million Newcastle United takeover have reportedly lined up their first “sensational” target – Rafa Benitez.

Monday, 27th January 2020, 12:00 pm
Updated Monday, 27th January 2020, 12:00 pm

The Sun claim that Benitez is wanted by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who is backing Amanda Staveley’s latest takeover bid.

Benitez left the club last summer after failing to agree a new contract with Mike Ashley, United’s owner.

The 59-year-old joined Chinese side Dalian Yifang. Benitez – who was succeeded by Steve Bruce in the managerial hotseat at St James’s Park – remains a popular figure on Tyneside, having guided the club to the Championship title in 2017 and led the team to 10th and 13th-placed finishes in the Premier League.

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Leaks have suggested that Staveley’s bid is at an “advanced” stage. However, sources close to the deal have urged caution.

Ashley is also understood to be unhappy that the bid has been made public.

Speaking last summer, Ashley said: “The reality is with these deals that once it gets out, if it's not done, it's probably not going to get done.”

Bruce was asked about the reports of a takeover after Saturday’s goalless FA Cup draw against Oxford United at St James’s Park.

Amanda Staveley at St James's Park.

“I think I’ve got enough worries of my own on the football side without having to worry about those stories,” said United’s head coach.

Meanwhile, former Newcastle chairman Chris Mort – who worked on Ashley’s takeover in 2007 – is said to be leading the takeover talks on behalf of Staveley.