RAFA BENITEZ is not even thinking about the chances of Mike Ashley selling up and wants everyone at Newcastle United to focus on results on the pitch until something concrete happens.

With winter approaching again, Ashley is understood to be ready to lower his asking price in his bid to find a buyer for a club he was unable to sell last season.

The sportswear tycoon put Newcastle up for sale 11 months ago when takeover talks with financier Amanda Staveley’s PCP Capital Partners had an offer rejected.

Ashley went on to suggest that discussions were a complete waste of time and he has struggled to find a buyer since, which is led to suggestions he will drop his valuation to around the £300m mark.

Benitez has struggled to convince Ashley to invest in his squad as much as he would have liked throughout the last year and has not put pen to paper on a new contract.

He will not commit to an extension either until he is clearer about Newcastle’s ambition, regardless of whether Ashley sells or not. On a weekly basis, though, he maintains that all his focus is on guiding Newcastle to better results after a winless start to the campaign.

That is the message he wants the players to focus on too, ahead of Saturday’s trip to Crystal Palace which has already taken on greater significance after Newcastle’s disappointing start has left them in 19th spot.

The Magpies have only collected a point from their opening five games and lost for the fourth time in the Premier League against Arsenal last weekend.

Goalkeeper Martin Dubravka conceded twice that afternoon and with Newcastle sitting in the relegation zone there is a need for Benitez’s team to claim positive results at Selhurst Park and against Leicester at St James’ Park the following week.

Dubravka said: “We’re disappointed, as we’ve been so close to taking points, even against Arsenal we had the chance to take at least one. It’s still the same.

“We lost 2-1 against Chelsea, Manchester City and Arsenal. We knew that it would be a difficult game against a difficult opponent, but unfortunately we only have one point.

“The positive is that we have shown a great mentality. Even if we have conceded two goals, we have tried to play football. Probably the second half (against Arsenal) was not the best. We definitely know that, but the first half was good.

“We could have taken points. Especially in the first half, it was good football from our side. We had a chance, but unfortunately we conceded two goals.”

Newcastle have looked in decent enough positions in games against Chelsea, Manchester City and Arsenal at the break but have ended up conceding and letting their standards drop so have lost them all.

Dubravka said: “It’s interesting. We talked about it a lot at half-time. We needed to be ready for the first ten minutes (of the second half). We needed to keep going at the same level as in the first half, and unfortunately we conceded a goal in the first few minutes. It was a brilliant strike. That’s all we had to say.”

That brilliant strike was from Granit Xhaka in the 49th minute when Newcastle were looking for a decent start, and from that moment on Newcastle couldn’t stop Arsenal who added a second through Mesut Ozil ten minutes later.

“I was so close to the first, I touched the ball a little bit, but it was a great strike,” said Dubravka. “I was disappointed with the second, as I was so close to saving it, but I couldn’t see anything. It was just a reflex. Suddenly he was completely alone and had time to decide where he wanted to kick the ball, unfortunately for us.”