Newcastle United are ready to play hardball with Moussa Sissoko and his suitors – with the backing of Mike Ashley.
Sissoko is looking for an “early” exit from the relegated this summer.
But the club feels the wantaway midfielder is worth £35million in today’s inflated transfer market.
United are still yet to receive a bid for Sissoko, who has been linked with Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool.
Newcastle manager Rafa Benitez wants Sissoko – who was in the France team beaten 1-0 by Portugal in Sunday’s Euro 2016 final – to stay and play in the Championship.
“People are talking about this price, this price,” said Benitez, speaking from the club’s training camp in Ireland.
“We don’t want to sell, so we haven’t put any price. We are happy with him.
“I appreciate him too much to think about that.
“We know he has done really well and a lot of people will be talking about him, but we’d like to see him here and that’s it.”
However, if Sissoko – who has three years left on his deal – is to leave in this summer’s transfer window, it will be on the club’s terms.
United, acutely aware of the huge sums that will be spent by cash-rich Premier League clubs this summer, will not let Sissoko force a cut-price move.
Sissoko’s camp have called on Newcastle to be “reasonable” in their valuation of a player who struggled for form for much of last season but ended the campaign as Benitez’s captain.
And the 26-year-old himself said: “Newcastle would ask for £35 million?
“It could be £20million – for me, it changes nothing. The interested clubs will know how to find common ground. I hope that it will be as early as possible.”
Meanwhile, Ashley himself is keen for the likes of Sissoko and Georginio Wijnaldum to stay and help the club win promotion.
The club’s billionaire owner was not minded to sell Sissoko in the wake of relegated – and his stance hasn’t changed.
Ashley, however, will be guided by Benitez, who has the final say on the club’s incoming and outgoing transfers.