Kevin Phillips has urged Newcastle to prevent Everton from signing Allan Saint-Maximin at all costs should an offer come in for him.
Reports earlier this month suggested the Toffees would target the Frenchman if they were to lose Richarlison to Real Madrid. Carlo Ancelotti is eyeing a reunion with his former forward after he impressed the veteran manager on Merseyside. And Benitez could then copy his counterpart in raiding an old club to secure a replacement.
The Spaniard did not manage Saint-Maximin during his three years in the St James’ Park dugout. Also, he was supposedly against signing him.
Soon after he departed the north East, the winger arrived in England for a £16.5m fee.
He was an instant hit with Toon fans and seemingly has also impressed Benitez since too.
The Magpies tied him down to a massive contract extension last year which would keep him at the club until 2026.
As such, they value him at somewhere between £50-60m. If their Premier League rivals stumped up this fee, it could be a very tempting offer.
That amount would double Steve Bruce’s transfer kitty for the summer. However, former Sunderland striker Phillips feels no amount would warrant letting Saint-Maximin leave.
Speaking to Football Insider, he said: “From Steve Bruce’s point of view, you can’t let him go.
“At the end of the day, he’s one of their best players when he’s fit. Him and Almiron, when they’re on fire they can tear any defence apart.
“When you lose one of your best players it’s a big blow because it’s very difficult to replace them.
“So Steve will be fighting in the background. I’m sure he’s having talks with him, trying to keep the player from Everton’s clutches and to keep him happy.
“But he has signed a new deal so the Newcastle fans will be hoping that he’ll stay.”
Bad news for Toon supporters
Meanwhile, the Newcastle takeover saga will rumble on into next year after the Premier League arbitration hearing was adjourned.
Magpies fans face months of more frustration as they wait to find out if the Saudi Arabian-backed bid will succeed.
The delay, caused by “issues with the disclosure of evidence”, means current owner Mike Ashley could remain at the helm for the whole of next season.
A joint statement from the Premier League and Newcastle read: “The parties attended a hearing today in the case between Newcastle United and the Premier League.
“The main hearing of the arbitration has regrettably now been adjourned until early 2022 due to issues with the disclosure of evidence.
“The parties will be making no further comment at this time.”