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Newcastle knocked back in bid for Nice striker Alassane Plea

By July 3, 2018No Comments

Newcastle have had a bid for Nice striker Alassane Plea rejected as manager Rafael Benitez attempts to inject firepower into his team.

Press Association Sport understands that the Magpies have made formal contact with the Ligue 1 club over a man who carries a £27million price tag, but that their initial approach was rebuffed.

In addition, they face competition with West Ham and Premier League new boys Fulham, as well as Bundesliga outfit Borussia Monchengladbach, having been credited with an interest in the 25-year-old.

Whether or not Newcastle are prepared to revisit the situation remains to be seen, but owner Mike Ashley is not a man to be drawn into a bidding war and has in the past been reluctant to exceed the club’s valuation of a target.

Benitez was able to persuade the club to go £2m beyond the £10m they were initially prepared to pay Bournemouth for midfielder Matt Ritchie two summers ago and has been richly rewarded since, but does not take kindly to what he considers to be unreasonable demands.

Former Lyon frontman Plea has scored 44 goals in 129 appearances for Nice, 21 of them last season.

He missed Monday’s first training session under new manager Patrick Vieira because of “a plane delay”, but the club tweeted a video of the player back in harness on Tuesday morning.

The Magpies remain in a state of flux with Benitez entering the final year of his existing contract and yet to agree an extension as he waits to see evidence of the club’s ambition, while Ashley is not keen to invest substantially with the manager’s future uncertain.

In any case, the sportswear magnate has indicated that he will not inject cash on top of that which the club has earned by securing its top-flight status to fund a spending spree, meaning his manager will have to work to a budget once again.

Benitez will be able to boost his kitty if Fulham push home their interest in £20m-rated Serbia international Aleksandar Mitrovic and he can offload the likes of Matz Sels and Chancel Mbemba, who are surplus to requirements.

But as he targets Chelsea midfielder Kenedy, who did so well on loan at St James’ Park during the second half of last season, and maintains an interest in former Magpie Andros Townsend, currently at Crystal Palace, the Spaniard knows he may have to be creative.

Scotland international Ritchie has been one of his most consistent performers over the last two seasons, but with Stoke, Middlesbrough and former club Bournemouth having been linked with a £15m move for him, that is something he may have to consider.

Stoke are understood to have declared their hand, but there is no deal in place for a player Benitez does not want to lose, but knows he may have to sacrifice to get what he wants.