'Not yet' - former Liverpool boss confirms Newcastle United transfer is close to being completed

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The Newcastle United defender is on the verge of reuniting with Rafa Benitez.

Former Newcastle United manager Rafa Benitez has confirmed Javier Manquillo is close to joining him at Celta Vigo.

The Spanish right-back was spotted in Spain on Thursday evening ahead of undergoing his medical. Reports in Spain claim Manquillo has signed a contract until 2025 - ending his six-and-a-half-year spell at St James' Park - ahead of a free transfer.

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Manquillo, who was signed by Benitez from Atletico Madrid in 2017, is out of contract at the end of the campaign. The 27-year-old has made 110 appearances for Newcastle, with his only goal coming in a 4-1 defeat away to Manchester United.

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"He is not our player yet," Benitez said. "There are last minute paperwork issues. I imagine it will be resolved. What we are looking for is to improve the competitiveness of the squad in all the positions we can whenever we can.

"[Manquillo] is a market opportunity, a player who has experience, who can help us in this stretch. If everything goes well, in many more games. I insist, he is not yet our footballer and comes to help, to add, to compete."

Manquillo hasn't featured in a competitive match this season. The full-back has been recovering from a groin issue, which Benitez revealed required surgery.

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Vigo host Real Sociedad on Saturday but even if Manquillo completes his move in time, he won't be involved.

Benitez added: "He is a player who is healthy once he finished a problem he had with his adductor, he ended up having surgery for an inguinal hernia to see if the problem came from there. He is fine, he has been training. 

"Now it is a question of how long it will take for him to get fit. We are not bringing him for tomorrow. We are bringing him so that he is in shape as soon as possible and tightens so that those of us who are around can all get fit the batteries.

"If you are going to ask me if he is going to play tomorrow? No. First, because he is not our player yet, and second because he would not be fit."

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