RAFAEL BENITEZ will be demanding money to spend in January regardless of whether Mike Ashley’s attempts to sell Newcastle United before Christmas are successful.

The Magpies boss is understood to have less optimism that a takeover will take place this month, even though Ashley and his negotiators have held further discussions with Amanda Staveley’s PCP Capital Partners.

Newcastle’s weaknesses and lack of depth and Premier League quality has been highlighted during a run of ten matches that has heralded just one victory.

Benitez has made no secret of his desire to strengthen his squad, having felt that he was left short when the summer transfer window closed, and he has targets in mind for when it reopens in January.

And, despite claiming recently that Financial Fair Play rules will prevent over-spending, he also knows he must push as hard as he can for funds to make additions to his squad for the final five months of the season.

Ashley will be reluctant to invest further in Newcastle, but he should appreciate that if there is a genuine threat of relegation then he can’t afford for the club to drop into the Championship for the third time under his ownership.

That is a bargaining tool Benitez will be stressing heavily as January edges closer, with Newcastle now only three places and five points above the relegation zone after 15 matches.

The next two home dates with Leicester and Everton – two clubs rejuvenated following the appointments of Claude Puel and Sam Allardyce – are likely to be vital to the mood felt in the dressing room and in the stands.

What happens in the boardroom will also be crucial, as talk of Staveley’s attempts to buy the club have gone quiet over the last week or so. It remains the case that Ashley wants nearer to the £400m he was asking for, while the Dubai-based financier has offered much less.

Newcastle are distinctly short of options to change the team around during this difficult period, particularly in the final third.

Despite the arrival of Joselu, who was very much a fall-back option, the focus from Benitez and his recruitment team has been on adding to his attacking options – and one leading target has seen his valuation soar since the summer.

Besiktas’ Cenk Tosun has been on Newcastle’s radar for months and he scored in the Istanbul derby with Galatasaray over the weekend, prompting his club to hail his performance.

Besiktas’ vice-president Deniz Atalay said: "If you ask me, Cenk is worth €100m, he has a very bright future. He is starting to reap the fruits from the seeds we sewed.”

Atalay’s comments were tongue-in-cheek but an indication that Besiktas are determined to get what the feel to be a top price; having seen a move to Crystal Palace break down in the summer for around the £22.5m mark.

That would mean Newcastle – also credited in Spain with an interest in former Real Madrid keeper Iker Casillas - having to break their long-standing transfer record of £16m paid for Michael Owen in 2005; Benitez accepts just how difficult it would be to persuade Ashley to pay that sort of fee.

Newcastle could raise money by offloading some players, with Rolando Aarons interesting Aston Villa, Huddersfield and Palace.