JAMAAL Lascelles believes Rafael Benitez’s transfer success this summer should already strike fear into the rest of the Championship – but Newcastle United just have to prove why.

The Derby-born 22-year-old earned massive respect among the supporters and Benitez in the closing stages of the last campaign by having his say in the dressing room to try to motivate players.

While relegation eventually fell on the young centre-back, Benitez was impressed and will be keen to give him a real chance to prove his worth next season.

The Newcastle boss is looking to recruit at least one new defender in the next couple of weeks and they have been told they will need to offer £1m more than the £4.5m figure they have to land Blackburn’s Grant Hanley. Middlesbrough’s £15m-rated Daniel Ayala, also wanted by Everton, is also of interest, along with Sheffield Wednesday's Tom Lees.

Lascelles is not thinking about who else might arrive at St James’ Park, however, and he is purring at those who have already arrived – particularly £10m striker Dwight Gayle and £12m winger Matt Ritchie.

"They're massive signings (Gayle and Ritchie),” said Lascelles. “I was so pleased when I found out they were signing for us. They show great passion and are going to work hard.

"I've played against Ritchie a few times at Nottingham Forest and Newcastle and every time he's hurt us.

"I had a chat with him the other day and he was just saying how big the team could be with the players we've got. He said the tempo in training is really high.

"For him to say that, an experienced player, shows the quality we've got. He's another voice as well, which we need.

"Gayle's a massive signing. Some people have said we lacked that in-behind player, and I think he'll bring that. He always looks to play off the shoulder, and he'll get goals. I'm really pleased with that. Hopefully, he'll make a good partnership with whoever he's up there with.”

It is widely felt that Newcastle would not have been able to pull in players such as Ritchie and Gayle from the Premier League had they not persuaded Benitez to stay in charge.

Lascelles, speaking at the Newcastle Foundation 1892 Cup created to involve primary school children following an idea from Benitez, said: "For us players, knowing that we've got Rafa for the season is a massive confidence-booster.

“You look forward to training every day and him teaching you new things.

"I can't wait for the start to get started. Whatever direction he takes us in, we'll follow.

“We've made the facilities at Newcastle even better. Everything's on the front foot. I think we've got a bright future. I’m still buzzing he is still here."

While Newcastle – whose players have been on a team bonding session involving abseiling and archery in Ireland - are working on a deal for Hanley and others, there is no doubt Benitez will sell players over the next few weeks.

It has emerged Watford are interested in signing full-back Daryl Janmaat. The Dutchman has caught the eye of bigger clubs in the past, but the Hornets are weighing up whether to meet a £10m valuation placed on his head.

German club Borussia Dortmund are the latest club to show an interest in midfielder Moussa Sissoko. Newcastle have placed a £35m price-tag on his head since the Euros and the Bundesliga club have recently raised money by selling Henrikh Mkhitaryan to Manchester United.