RAFAEL BENITEZ is hoping a new round of takeover talk does not prove a distraction at Newcastle United, and is urging everyone at the club to learn lessons from what happened 12 months ago.

Mike Ashley reignited discussions about the future of the Magpies on Monday when he claimed talks aimed at securing a sale were at an “advanced” stage, and expressed a hope that a new owner could be in place by January.

The situation has obvious parallels to this time last year, when Ashley became involved in a very public spell of bargaining with Amanda Staveley and her PCP Capital Partners group.

Staveley eventually withdrew her interest, but Ashley was reluctant to spend significant sums during the January transfer window when there was a chance the club could be sold in the early part of the year and Newcastle skipper Jamaal Lascelles admitted the uncertainty adversely affected performances on the pitch.

There are fears that both things could happen again, so while Benitez repeatedly claimed it was “business as usual” as he previewed this evening’s Premier League game at Everton, he was eventually forced to concede there was the potential for further takeover uncertainty to have a negative effect.

“I will say that I hope it will not be a distraction,” said Benitez. “Why? Because the players, they know that they have to perform, that’s it.

“For us, we have experience of this. We are in the same situation that we were in before. When we say, ‘Business as usual’, it’s because we know that it will not change our plans.

“We have been here before. We have to carry on with the same idea. After, we will see where we can go, but I cannot change anything to do with that. Lee (Charnley) told me it is business as usual, so will we change what we do? No.”

On the field, Benitez will attempt to focus minds on this evening’s trip to Goodison, but off the pitch, there are obvious concerns that his attempts to plan for January will be turned upside down if Ashley refuses to sanction significant spending at the turn of the year.

Newcastle’s recruitment team have laid the ground work for a deal for Atlanta United midfielder Miguel Almiron, and Benitez has identified a number of additional targets in his key positions of attacking midfield and left-back.

He will continue to work with his head of recruitment, Steve Nickson, to try to complete as many deals as possible, even if he accepts that Ashley will ultimately dictate what does or does not occur.

“Our plans are to look for the targets,” said Benitez. “Fine. We are looking for the targets, so it depends who is there and who is available. Steve will continue working and watching players, giving me names, and that’s it.

“The list stays the same – it’s how many names you don’t use or you do use. But the list is the same, no matter what. We carry on thinking Mike will be there, and we have to choose the right players for us. That’s it.”

Attention will revert to the pitch as Newcastle return to action at Everton, with Benitez claiming financial reality will once again dictate that his side start as underdogs.

The Magpies were unable to handle a West Ham strike force worth more than £70m at the weekend, and in the likes of Richarlison, Gylfi Sigurdsson and Bernard, Everton also boast attacking players way beyond Newcastle’s price range.

“You see the derby against Liverpool, and you see the level of Everton, and you understand they can spend on one player maybe more than we spend in a total window,” said Benitez

Paul Dummett and Isaac Hayden will miss tonight’s game through injury, and Newcastle are also without the suspended Matt Ritchie.