Mike Ashley gives approval to Rafa Benitez ahead of transfer and contract talks

Newcastle boss Rafa Benitez. Picture by Frank ReidNewcastle boss Rafa Benitez. Picture by Frank Reid
Newcastle boss Rafa Benitez. Picture by Frank Reid
Mike Ashley has congratulated Rafa Benitez on keeping Newcastle United up '“ ahead of talks about his future.

Benitez will sit down with Ashley, the club’s owner, at the end of the season.

However, representatives of United’s manager have already had discussions with managing director Lee Charnley about a new contract and transfer budget.

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Newcastle are 10th in the Premier League, and safe from the threat of relegation, ahead of this afternoon’s home game against West Bromwich Albion.

Benitez’s side secured their top-flight status with four successive victories.

Asked if Ashley had congratulated him, Benitez said: “We were talking in the past and he was happy, obviously, with everything, so we had the conversation before.

“The conversation about the contract and the future is between Lee Charnley and my people.”

There will be more discussions with Charnley next week.

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Benitez said: “We have had conversations and we’ll have conversations next week.

“My representatives have talked with Lee Charnley, and that’s it. I won’t say anything else about that, because I want to concentrate on football and the game.

Asked if the preliminary talks were about his or the club’s future, Benitez said: “About everything, but that is part of the conversation next week.

“I’m telling you now, because obviously a lot of people want to know. I will not talk too much about that, because we will have another meeting and we’ll see how it’s going.”

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Benitez – who joined Newcastle two years ago and guided the club to the Championship title last season – is keen for a quick resolution to the talks.

He added: “I think this would be good for everybody.”

Benitez has previously stated that he wants to know if the club’s ambitions match his own.

“What I will say is that I don’t want to talk about my ambitions, because it’s linked with the contract and all these things,” said the 58-year-old. “My answer is that we have to talk, and that’s it.

“We know that we have a massive city behind us, so you have to try and do your best with this massive club, but I will not talk about that.

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“They had a conversation talking about everything, obviously, because you have to talk about everything, and now they have to continue talking and see where we are.”

Looking further ahead, Benitez’s doesn’t believe the shortened transfer window will be an issue for the club.

The summer window will close before the new Premier League campaign kicks off.

“You had three months to do whatever you want to do – now you have two months,” said Benitez. “You can do whatever you want in two months.”

Newcastle, meanwhile, have four games left to play.

Benitez said: “I want to stay focused on the games.”