Jimenez leaves Newcastle

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The Independent Football

Newcastle today announced that Tony Jimenez has left the club.

The man appointed vice-president (player recruitment) by owner Mike Ashley when he installed his off-the-field team under executive director (football) Dennis Wise, has left St James' Park to "pursue other interests".

A club statement read: "Newcastle United can today confirm that Tony Jimenez has left the club.

"Tony, who was appointed vice-president (player recruitment) in January, has made the decision in order to pursue other interests.

"Newcastle United thanks Tony for all of his hard work and efforts and wishes him every success in the future."

Wise, Jimenez and technical co-ordinator Jeff Vetere were put in place to oversee the club's recruitment policy, although their roles have proved controversial.

While they have brought a series of young players to Tyneside, they were also asked to strengthen the first-team squad during the summer, and that led to major clashes with then manager Kevin Keegan.

Keegan resigned last month after furious disagreements with managing director Derek Llambias over the club's transfer policy, which saw James Milner sold to Aston Villa and Fabricio Coloccini, Jonas Gutierrez, Danny Guthrie, Xisco and loan signing Ignacio Gonzalez drafted in.

It is understood Keegan, who had insisted Milner was not for sale, had little say in the summer acquisitions, and he was enraged when it emerged there had been efforts to unload high-earners Michael Owen, Joey Barton and Alan Smith as the transfer window closed.

Keegan's departure sparked angry protests by fans which in turn led to Ashley's decision to sell the club.

Investment bankers Seymour Pierce have been instructed to find a buyer, and interested parties - the Magpies believe there are six serious candidates - have been given until next Friday to declare their hands.

Jimenez flew out to Dubai with Ashley, Wise and Llambias after Ashley announced his intention to sell, in the hope that his business contacts could help them push through a quick sale.

However, that mission came to nothing and it was then that Seymour Pierce were engaged.

Ashley had earlier tried to persuade Keegan to return, but sources on Tyneside today were quick to play down suggestions that Jimenez's exit could pave the way for a reconciliation.

At least two of the consortia linked with the club have vowed to re-appoint the 57-year-old.