Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley has pledged to back Rafa Benitez in the transfer market this summer, although fans could be forgiven for refusing to get carried away just yet.
Ashley said something very similar a year ago. And, by the end of the transfer window, the most expensive new player to arrive at St James’ Park was the £12 million Norwich City winger Jacob Murphy.
But, after leading Newcastle to a top-half finish against all expectations, the Chronicle reports that Benitez wants assurances about the club’s budget and how much he will get to spend, and is hoping that he will be given a budget of around £60 million to invest however he wants.
And there is one player in particular that Benitez would surely jump at the chance of signing – David Luiz.
It is understood that the Spaniard is hoping to strengthen Newcastle’s options at centre-back with solid, if not particularly exciting, players under consideration. But the prospect of signing Luiz this summer will surely entice Benitez with the buccaneering centre-back's future appearing to lie away from Chelsea.
The Brazilian defender has fallen out of favour at Stamford Bridge this season, featuring in just ten Premier League games with Antonio Conte preferring to include Andreas Christiansen and Antonio Rudiger in his back three. Benitez knows him well from his time as the Blues' interim manager in 2012/13, going as far as to describe Luiz as 'world-class'.
In the Sky Sports Transfer Talk podcast back in January, it was reported that Benitez wanted to sign the 31-year-old Luiz on loan from Chelsea but was told he did not have the budget to make a deal possible.
But with Ashley seemingly willing to loosen the purse-strings, there may be a real chance that Benitez’s dream deal could come true this time around.