RAFAEL BENITEZ is struggling to strike a deal for either of his leading goalkeeper targets, yet has still given the go-ahead for Matz Sels to leave Newcastle United.

Sels is on the verge of completing a season-long loan move to Anderlecht because Benitez has decided he needs different options between the posts when the Magpies return to Premier league action in August.

But the Newcastle boss has been left frustrated so far in his search for a new shot-stopper, with deals for Pepe Reina and Willy Caballero both proving tricky to conclude swiftly.

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Reina was identified pretty early on as his preferred choice to play between the posts next season, and was under the impression a deal could be done.

Now Napoli are doing more to keep Reina in Serie A, and are set to return with a fresh contract offer for the experienced Spaniard.

Reina, who only has 12 months remaining of his existing deal, had asked for an improved three-year contract and Napoli owner Aurelio de Laurentis had dismissed that out of hand.

De Laurentis then quoted Newcastle a fee of around £5m for the 34-year-old and that is a figure neither Benitez nor the money-men at St James’ Park want to pay.

There has been a stand-off since then but Napoli are ready to tempt Reina into staying with a two-year extension, which could be enough to prevent the move to Newcastle from going ahead.

Benitez has always retained an interest in the hope of the situation changing and he has since found that a deal for the cheaper alternative, Caballero, has taken more time than expected to conclude.

That has been the case with all of Benitez’s initial four transfer targets so far, having also struggled to complete a quick deal for Chelsea youngster Tammy Abraham and Eibar defender Florian Lejeune too. He also wants a midfielder, with Liverpool’s Lucas Leiva among those in his sights.

The search for a new goalkeeper has not prevented him from giving the go-ahead for Sels to return to Belgium.

The £4.5m buy from Genk only moved to Tyneside last summer but lost his place in October. The 25-year-old, also wanted by Fenerbahce, is set for Anderlecht, who will take on all of his wages for the duration of his loan.

Benitez is still hoping to offload Tim Krul, who only has a year remaining on his deal, in the next few weeks and that would leave Rob Elliot and Karl Darlow as his options in goal.

Newcastle’s players are only a couple of weeks away from returning to training and Benitez is looking for progress because he hopes to have at least four new faces on board by then.

The club have played down any suggestion that complications have been the result of fresh attempts from Mike Ashley to deliver overseas investment into the club.

Newcastle have worked closely with Ashley’s close associate Justin Barnes, who is not an employee, and that has raised concerns it is impacting on the manager’s spending. However, sources close to the club insist that is not the case.

Newcastle, meanwhile, allowed young defender Kevin Mbabu to leave on a permanent basis earlier this week and he has thanked the club for his last few years at St James’.

Mbabu, who has joined Swiss club Young Boys, said: “I’ve been proud to wear the black and white shirt and I gave everything I had each time I got the chance to play for this club.

“I would have loved to give you more but injuries and new opinions have decided differently.

“I learned a lot in my time at Newcastle but the biggest is yet to come for me. I work every day to improve myself to become a great footballer. Now, a new challenge is coming for me with BSC Young Boys in Switzerland.”