Benitez makes statement on Mitrovic future amid Brighton interest

Rafael Benitez has told Brighton to forget signing striker Aleksandar Mitrovic this month even if they do come up with the asking price.

The Magpies are currently locked in a battle to land Feyenoord frontman Nicolai Jorgensen in a bid to strengthen their Premier League survival hopes, and could be prepared to listen to offers for the Serbia international, who has indicated his intention to leave Tyneside this month, if they succeed.

Brighton are understood to have tested the water with a bid of around £7million, less than half what Newcastle paid Anderlecht for Mitrovic in July 2015, but Benitez is determined he will not be sold to a relegation rival whatever the offer.

He said: “It was clear to him and his agent, if we can bring a striker in then we can consider anything – apart from the Premier League. If we can’t bring in a striker, then we have to consider carefully because we need players.

“I see the press that Brighton offered £7million or £8million, but we are not considering selling a player to a Premier League team. That will not make sense.

“We have to manage the players we have. It doesn’t matter how much teams offer in the Premier League because we can’t consider offers if we don’t buy the players.”

Benitez, who this week landed Chelsea winger Kenedy on loan, is keeping his fingers crossed that managing director Lee Charnley will make further breakthroughs during the final few days of the transfer window, but was remaining coy over his targets.

He said: “We have to make sure on the 31st (of January), we will have the players we want, that is the main thing.

“I don’t do the business, I only do the football issues. Lee Charnley does. We gave a list of players to them on January 1 and the plans A, B and C were ready. I have confidence that before the 31st, we will bring someone else.”

In the meantime, Benitez faces the task of preparing his team for an FA Cup fourth round trip to Chelsea on Sunday – for which Kenedy is ineligible – three days before Burnley visit St James’ Park in the league.