Newcastle defend summer recruitment

Rafael Benitez’s Newcastle United won just one of their five pre-season friendlies

Newcastle United boss Rafael Benitez, captain Jamaal Lascelles and chief Lee Charnley have defended their summer recruitment in a joint statement on the eve of their first game of the season.

Fabian Schar, Martin Dubravka, Salomon Rondon, Yoshinori Muto, Kenedy, Ki Sung-yueng and Federico Fernandez all joined prior to Thursday’s deadline.

However, fans plan to protest before Saturday’s opener against Tottenham.

“We have a better squad than the one that finished 10th last term,” it said.

“Doing good business in a transfer window is about ending the window clearly stronger than when you started and we believe we have done this.”

After winning promotion back to the Premier League in 2016-17, owner Mike Ashley said Benitez and Charnley could have “every last penny the club generates” to build for the season ahead.

Benitez, 58, guided the club to a 10th-placed finish on their return to the top flight, but was frustrated over their transfer activity last year.

In a turbulent pre-season, Benitez said fans “need to be concerned” and admitted he had “no idea” over potential new signings, while the club’s players later refused to co-operate with the media in a dispute over bonuses.

The statement continued: “Given our finishing position last season, we already had a team of players who were more than capable of performing well in the Premier League.

“They have shown heart, guts and determination and the inference that they are ‘Championship’ players and not good enough is unfair and untrue. The players all believe in themselves and in the quality of the squad, and we all believe in the players.”


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