Rafael Benitez is adamant that Newcastle United want to keep Jamaal Lascelles – no matter what West Ham United bid for the centre-half in the remainder of the transfer window.

Newcastle rejected West Ham’s initial offer for Lascelles yesterday, with the Hammers having been willing to pay an initial fee of £20m, which could have risen to £25m if a series of clauses were met.

The Northern Echo:

The West Ham hierarchy are set to make a second approach in the next few days, and Everton are also poised to firm up their own interest in the Newcastle skipper.

Mike Ashley has always argued that every player has their price, but Benitez insists he does not want to lose Lascelles this summer.

“We don’t want to sell him,” said the Newcastle boss, who was speaking at the Foundation Cup, an event that saw local schoolchildren compete in a tournament at the Magpies’ training ground. “He was a key player for us last year and he has to be this year and for a long time to come in the future.

“The reality is that we don’t want to sell Jamaal. He is a key player for us and leader. We are happy with him.”

Benitez is willing to sell both Aleksandar Mitrovic and Chancel Mbemba this summer, but despite considerable interest, Newcastle are yet to receive an acceptable offer for either player.

The Magpies will confirm the arrival of Kenedy later today, with the Brazilian winger having agreed a season-long loan from Chelsea.

“It is great news for us,” said Benitez. “It is still not done, but it is very close to happening. He is a player with quality. You talk about Brazilian players, they have quality.

“He is a nice lad and working hard for the team. So I think it is quite positive for the lads in the dressing room.”


Tony Pulis is keen to make further transfer progress before Boro’s first-team squad travel to Germany for their latest training camp – with Everton’s Mo Besic figuring prominently on his wanted list.

Besic spent the second half of last season on loan at the Riverside, and was a key figure in Boro’s run to the Championship play-offs, where they lost to Aston Villa.

The Northern Echo:

The Bosnia international has been deemed surplus to requirements at Goodison Park, with new Everton boss Marco Silva needing to move on a number of players in order to be able to make signings of his own.

Besic is one of the players who will be sacrificed, and Boro officials are hoping to be able to tie up a deal for the midfielder.

Pulis is also interested in Burnley striker Sam Vokes, although Burnley will have to lower their current £15m valuation of the forward in order for a deal to be agreed.

There will also be departures from Teesside this summer, with record signing Britt Assombalonga and full-back Fabio da Silva currently closest to the exit door.

Assombalonga is attracting significant interest from a number of clubs in the Championship, while there is still a chance Fabio could secure a return to his homeland in Brazil.

Boro claimed their first pre-season victory last night as goals from Patrick Bamford and Assombalonga secured a 2-0 win over Spennymoor Town.


Joel Asoro will complete his £2m move to Swansea City later today, reinforcing the need for Jack Ross to recruit a new striker before the transfer window swings shut.

Asoro was a late withdrawal from last night’s friendly defeat at Darlington, with the Sunderland hierarchy having accepted Swansea’s offer for his services yesterday afternoon.

The Northern Echo:

He will travel to Wales later today to complete a medical and finalise personal terms, and his transfer should be confirmed in the next 24 hours.

Having turned down Sunderland’s offer for a new contract, Asoro was allowed to leave to prevent him becoming a free agent next summer. Had that happened, Sunderland would only have been due a minimal compensation fee that would have been significantly lower than £2m.

“He is an exciting player,” said Swansea boss Graham Potter, in an interview with Wales Online. “He is someone we have known for a while and he has high-end quality.

“He is very, very direct and has extreme pace, which we think can help us. But until he is a Swansea City player, I do not want to say too much.

“All I know is we have had a bid accepted and there is no news to report in terms of finalising everything.”

Asoro will not be the only player leaving Sunderland in the next few weeks, with Wahbi Khazri and Lamine Kone both edging towards the exit door.

Khazri’s proposed move to St Etienne is close to completion, with Sunderland set to bank around £9m for the Tunisia international. Strasbourg have made a number of approaches for Kone, but the Black Cats are yet to agree a deal with the Ligue 1 side.