Following Sunday’s superb win over Arsenal, Rafa Benitez has suggested that he could well agree to a new contract under Mike Ashley – but only ‘if everything is right”.
Benitez has worked wonders this season on our first year back in the top flight, turning what was described as a ‘Championship squad’ into one that could yet finish 8th – with us being just two points behind Leicester City (and one off Everton in 9th).
He may have done a brilliant job, but he won’t want a repeat of last summer in the coming months, meaning any new contract will not be agreed to unless he A) he gets assurances from Mike Ashley that things WILL change or B) sees ambitious new owners arrive at the club.
Here’s what he said after the game when questioned on his future at the club:
“We will see. Obviously, it is too early because we have just finished but we have plenty of time to talk about ideas for the future.
“As I have said before, if everything is right, it is a good opportunity but everything has to be right.”
He’s clearly keen to stay, having recently suggested he’d spend as many as 10 years on Tyneside if he felt able to, however he is wanting ‘everything to be right’ to give him the right tools to achieve his ambitions at NUFC.
Keeping Lascelles at the club, signing Dubravka and Kenedy (and possibly Slimani) permanently, breaking our club record transfer fee to sign a proven striker and investing in the training ground and the U-23 squad. They are a few things that Benitez will want to see happen over the summer.
Realistically, we need Ashley to sell up to achieve all of the above, but he must be smart enough to realise that Rafa is his biggest asset.
Keeping him happy and at the club is essential for him from a business perspective. Back him or be gone.