Benitez refuses to go to war with Newcastle over transfer business

Newcastle boss Rafael Benitez insists he is not going to “start a war” with the club over its January transfer business.

The Spaniard cut an increasingly frustrated figure last month as the Magpies waited until late in the window to make their move amid collapsed takeover talks and uncertainty over his budget.

In the event, he was able to add three new signings to his squad – Chelsea midfielder Kenedy, Leicester striker Islam Slimani and Sparta Prague keeper Martin Dubravka – on loan to afford him a series of different options for what remains of the Premier League season.

Asked as he prepared for Sunday’s vital trip to Crystal Palace if he had got what he wanted, Benitez said: “At the moment, the feeling is that we are a little bit better than three days before.

“Why? We have new players with different characteristics and they want to play, improve and push, and the others are already working hard.

“I’m here trying to bring the best from the team – that is the best for the club. I don’t want to create a war – I don’t need to do that – but I need to be sure the players are concentrated on football playing well and getting points every game to stay up.

“What I need is the team to play well. Believe me, it’s not a question of: ‘I’m happy, I’m not happy.’

“It doesn’t change anything. Our priority is just to stay in the Premier League.”

Six players left on loan to both trim the squad and make way for the new arrivals as the deadline approached, perhaps the most notable Serbia international striker Aleksandar Mitrovic.

The 23-year-old, a £14.5million signing from Anderlecht during the summer of 2015, joined Fulham on loan after a temporary switch back to the Belgian club fell through, and Benitez says he will be delighted if the frontman secures his place at the World Cup finals with a deluge of goals.

He said: “It was clear that he wanted and needed to play games. Now he has an opportunity.

“Hopefully he’ll score 25 goals – we’ll be happy with that. He’ll have more value, he will come back here and say, ‘I’m a new player, you have to trust me because I’ve scored 25 goals’. Fine, no problem.”