Rafa Benitez promised up to three new signings even if Mike Ashley fails to sell Newcastle

Mike Ashley is in the process of selling the club he has owned since 2007.

A deal is reportedly close with a consortium led by former Chelsea and Manchester United chief Peter Kenyon – though he is thought to be £100million adrift of the asking price.

A number of details are still to be ironed out but the sportswear tycoon's days at St James' Park appeared to be coming to an end.

But with previous proposed sales having fallen through – not least with Amanda Staveley – naturally there is caution over the deal.

However, The Chronicle understand that regardless of the outcome of the latest batch of talks Benitez will not have his transfer plans for the winter affected.

Benitez reportedly wants three new signings in the New Year but has constantly seen his ambitions undermined by the frugal Ashley.

A left-back, a winger and a striker are top of the Spaniard's wishlist.

Talks to sign Atalanta United's Miguel Almiron have already begun but the Magpies have been told no bid below £30million will be considered.

Newcastle only spent money on four players during the summer and having been left disappointed after previous windows, Benitez has a contingency plan.

A number of loan targets have been identified, with Benitez having already been forced to dip into that market in the summer to sign Kenedy and Salomon Rondon.

Nine defeats in their opening 16 games sees Newcastle just three points above the relegation zone and facing another campaign battling at the foot of the table.

Benitez was left fuming after the defeat to Wolves last time out following DeAndre Yedlin's dismissal in the 2-1 defeat.

But the north east club could pull away from danger in the coming weeks with games against two of the current bottom three, Huddersfield and Fulham, on the horizon.

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