RAFAEL BENITEZ will urge the Newcastle United hierarchy to push through a club-record deal for Miguel Almiron – whether takeover talks progress in the next couple of weeks or not.

Newcastle have agreed the framework of a deal that would see Almiron leave Atlanta United to move to St James’ Park when the transfer window reopens at the start of next month, but Mike Ashley and Lee Charnley are still to give the go-ahead for the transfer to be completed.

Ashley remains hopeful that a takeover deal could be agreed before the end of the year, with former Manchester United and Chelsea chief executive Peter Kenyon still in pole position to complete a buyout.

Kenyon has been working with New York-based financial consultancy, Rockefeller Management, to raise the funds required to meet Ashley’s £300m asking price, and is understood to be hopeful of completing a deal.

However, with neither Kenyon nor any of the other interested parties having entered into a period of exclusivity, hopes of a takeover being concluded before the end of the year are receding fast.

That will leave Ashley with a decision to make over Newcastle’s spending in the January transfer window, and there are fears that the Almiron deal could be shelved, with the Magpies owner instead attempting to secure a cut-price alternative.

Benitez is desperate to avoid such a scenario, having suffered a series of disappointments in the last three transfer windows, and the Magpies manager will meet Charnley in the next few days to request an update on January plans.

Newcastle’s head of recruitment, Steve Nickson, flew to the United States last week to meet Almiron and his representatives, and the Paraguay international is understood to have expressed a strong desire to move to Tyneside.

The 24-year-old, who is valued at around £20m, has recently won the MLS Cup with Atlanta United, but is determined to leave the United States rather than spend another season in the MLS.

His father, Ruben Almiron, said: “He will definitely go to England. What’s left to be decided is to what club, but Newcastle is the one with the advantage.”

Benitez is desperate for those above him to press home that advantage, but Ashley and Charnley’s track record for failing to complete deals that would break Newcastle’s long-standing transfer record hardly inspires confidence. Hence the desire to get the Almiron deal ‘over the line’ as quickly as possible once the transfer window reopens on January 1.

Newcastle return to action when they travel to Huddersfield Town on Saturday, and their preparations for the trip to the John Smith’s Stadium were boosted when Florian Lejeune returned to action on Monday night.

The centre-half ended a five-month injury lay-off when he played in the first 45 minutes of Newcastle Under-23s’ 2-1 victory over Norwich City.

Lejeune’s recovery from knee ligament surgery is well ahead of schedule, and Benitez will not be rushing the Spaniard back to the first team. However, he is set to be available before the end of year, with his return set to provide a timely boost as Newcastle prepare to tackle four games in the space of 12 days over the festive period.

Their immediate priority is to bounce back from the disappointment of Sunday’s home defeat to Wolves, when Newcastle matched Wolves with ten men, only for Matt Doherty to claim a stoppage-time winner.

Martin Dubravka thought he had salvaged a point when he saved Diogo Jota’s shot, was Doherty was on hand to head home the rebound.

“We expected it was going to be a tough game, and after DeAndre’s red card, it was even harder for us,” said Dubravka. “But I think even after that we played well. We created a few chances to score, and I don’t think we gave them so much space.

“That’s football sometimes. You need a bit of luck, and I don’t think we had that luck at all. I think if we had played with 11 players it would have been different, but it’s hard to complain about DeAndre because he tried to play as best as possible.”