Rafa Benitez to open Newcastle contract talks even if Mike Ashley stays as owner

Rafa Benitez is willing to discuss a new Newcastle United contract at the end of the season '“ even if Mike Ashley does not sell the club.
Rafa Benitez.Rafa Benitez.
Rafa Benitez.

Benitez was sounded out about a new deal in January by the club’s hierarchy.

United’s manager, however, was unwilling to discuss his position during the transfer window which eventually saw three loan signings – Islam Slimani, Kenedy and Martin Dubravka – arrive at St James’s Park.

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Benitez instead indicated that he will talk about his future at the end of the campaign, when he will have just 12 months to run on his deal.

However, Benitez will want written assurances on a number of issues, notably player recruitment, having been disappointed by club’s efforts in the last three transfer windows.

The club was put up for sale last October, and a buyer could still be found if it secures its Premier League status.

Equally, owner Ashley could even take the club off the market if he doesn’t find anyone willing to meet his asking price.

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Newcastle are 13th in the Premier League table, and four points above the relegation zone, ahead of the March 31 home game against Huddersfield Town.

Benitez was asked about his future ahead of his two-year anniversary at the club.

“Let me finish, let me do well, let us stay in the Premier League and then we can talk about the future,” said the 57-year-old.

Benitez, with an eye on the future, has been overhauling the club’s scouting network

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“We have improved and changed the scouting department a little bit in terms of moving people around,” said Benitez.

“We have a lot of systems now with stats.

“We see games on TV and also have people travelling around Europe and travelling around the world. It depends on the player.

“We have enough scouts in Europe and we now have two scouts in Spain.

“The main thing now is the prices of the players, and you need to know the markets, because if you go to the English market it’s very expensive.”