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Benitez hails Magpies fans as Ashley reign enters final stages

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Newcastle boss Rafael Benitez has thanked the club's fans for their support after a planned boycott was called off amid hope of a takeover deal being struck.

Tyneside has been plunged into a fresh frenzy of speculation since owner Mike Ashley revealed on Monday that he is in advanced talks over a sale and wants it done by the end of the month.

With four interested parties understood to have tabled bids in excess of £300m, there is hope that Ashley's controversial 11 and a half-year reign could soon draw to a close.

If fans have alternated between scepticism and optimism since Ashley's revelation, Benitez has insisted that he and his staff will continue to focus on games and preparations for the forthcoming January transfer window, whoever is at the helm.

Benitez said: "You have been asking me in a lot of press conferences about that, and I have to say thank you to the fans because my message has been very clear all this time.

"If the fans appreciate that, then they want to support the team in the way that they were supporting before, but even more because everybody will be even more focused on not wasting too much time with these questions and answers and if it is affecting the team or not.

He has been linked with an interest in Atlanta United's Paraguay midfielder Miguel Almiron, although the MLS club's president Darren Eales has dismissed as "laughable" suggestions that the player could join Newcastle either on loan or for as little as £15million.
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