RAFAEL BENITEZ has flown out to Dublin for a pre-season training camp with his Newcastle United players, desperately hoping for some positive news on the transfer front.

Norwich City are playing hardball over selling prize asset Jacob Murphy to Newcastle, who have increased a take-it-or-leave-it offer of £10m over the weekend.

The Magpies have been made aware that there is a desire on the player’s part to complete the move to Tyneside, where his mother is believed to be from and there are claims he supports the club.

Loading article content

But Norwich, where he only signed a new four-year deal last November, are insisting they will not be selling for less than the £16m asking price they have placed on him.

That has resulted in the stand-off between the two clubs, with Newcastle adamant the cash-up front offer of £10m should be enough to get the deal tied up.

Murphy, 22, has made a name for himself in the Championship and impressed for the England Under-21s during this summer’s European Championships.

Benitez has identified him as a player capable of making an impact at the higher level as Newcastle look to make a positive start to life back in the big league.

But things have not gone smoothly on the transfer front since securing promotion to the Premier League, with Florian Lejeune the only new face to have been added during that time.

Murphy had been given an extended break following his international appearances but was back with the Canaries for some testing on Saturday when Daniel Farke, the manager, reiterated a wish to keep working with him.

Worryingly for Benitez there does not appear to be any other deals particularly close, despite spending the summer in discussions with a long list of clubs and coming up short so far.

The Spaniard, linked with an interest in Alaves centre-back Fouhair Feddal because of a buy-out clause of just £2.6m, is expected to talk at length to the media about the summer so far while in Ireland. He did not conduct any interviews with the external media after Friday night’s win at Hearts.

Lejeune, the £8.7m buy from Eibar, was the only summer signing – excluding Christian Atsu who was on loan last season – to play at Tynecastle and he has made a favourable impression on his team-mates.

Newcastle defender Paul Dummett said: “The lads will all agree with me that since the first day of training he’s fit straight in.

“He’s comfortable on the ball as we saw against Hearts and he’s a big unit and he’s strong as well. He’s also good in the air. He has a lot of attributes he can bring to our team and he can bring a lot of competition.”

Benitez is looking to step things up on the fitness front ahead of Saturday’s trip to Preston and the players, 22 of them were used at Hearts, feel like progress is being made.

Dummett added: “It’s important to get rid of the rustiness because we’ve had eight weeks off without playing football.

“It’s about getting rid of the rustiness, building the match fitness up and it’s nice to win the game too because you don’t want to lose. The main priority was match fitness.

“It’s been intense but we’ve done a lot of ball work as well. The manager had us doing the same last season and he’s keen to use the ball early.

“We’ve been training as normal with running on top so it’s been enjoyable, which is probably not something you normally hear a lot from players. What you want to do as a player is play with the ball and we’ve already been doing that so that’s great.”