Rafa Benitez: Newcastle squad 'needs additions' to compete in Premier League
Newcastle United manager Rafa Benitez said his current squad is not good enough for the Premier League -- a call seemingly reinforced by a minister of Parliament, who has presented a petition to the House of Commons in protest of owner Mike Ashley.
Goalkeeper Martin Dubravka and winger Kenedy, who both arrived on loan last season, will return to the club, but Newcastle have otherwise mostly shied away from the transfer market this summer.
Benitez has been at odds with Ashley since the club won promotion to the Premier League last summer, chiefly over transfer policy and a reluctance to invest in the club.
"Is the current squad good enough for what we need? I don't think so," Benitez told reporters following a 2-2 away draw against Hull City on Tuesday. "It needs additions. That is clear. It is clear what we have to do."
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Newcastle added Ki Sung-Yueng on a free transfer from relegated Swansea City, but sold defender Chancel Mbemba to Porto and Mikel Merino to Real Sociedad and may also lose Aleksandar Mitrovic, who was sent on loan to Fulham last season, to a permanent move.
"I am speaking with [managing director] Lee Charnley every day, but not with [Ashley]," Benitez said. "Normally, during the year, I do not speak with him too much. In this case, I talk with Lee Charnley every day.
"The main thing is to do what we have to do. I do not have to speak to Mike."
Meanwhile, Newcastle Central's Labour MP, Chi Onwurah, delivered the petition to the House of Commons as "a way of bringing the concerns of fans directly to Parliament."
Supporters generated their own online petition in recent days, threatening to abandon the club unless Benitez is given a new contract, and because Onwurah could not introduce that petition in Parliament, she drafted her own.
"[The petition says] that the current manager, Rafa Benitez, needs the support of both fans and the club's owner, that this support should include investment in players, training facilities and community engagement ... [and] the owner, Mike Ashley, has not made this support forthcoming," Onwurah said, presenting the petition.
"The petitioners therefore request the House of Commons urge that the government take action to prevent unscrupulous football club owners from exploiting the clubs, their fans and local communities, with particular reference to Mike Ashley and Newcastle United Football Club."