An interesting development has been reported this morning in The Times, who claim NUFC owner Mike Ashley is set to open contract talks with Rafa Benitez, whose current deal at the club expires at the end of next season.
— Lee Ryder (@lee_ryder) September 26, 2017
The Times claim that Ashley is pleased with our start to the season and is keen to extend the Spaniard’s current contract at St. James’ Park, however there is more in it for Ashley than simply rewarding Rafa’s good work.
The billionaire owner is aware that Benitez is the club’s biggest asset and, with the club effectively up for sale, he is keen to tie down the gaffer on an extended deal to ensure the club remains an attractive proposition for potential buyers.
The report suggests Ashley is also keen to develop his relationship with Rafa and is believed to have ‘invited him out for dinner’ recently.
In The Times piece this morning, also interesting claim that Ashley is "believed to have invited" Rafa to dinner recently #nufc
— Chris Waugh (@ChrisDHWaugh) September 26, 2017
The Chronicle claim sit-down talks between Benitez and the board are yet to take place, and that Rafa would want assurances on transfer funds and clarity on the ‘plan’ going forward at the club before agreeing to any extension. This may be the sticking point however given his trust in Ashley has eroded somewhat over the past two windows.
Even if this is Ashley selfishly trying to better his cause and make Newcastle a more attractive proposition for new buyers, it only works in our favour should Rafa agree to it? It would increase the chances of Ashley earning a sale and decrease the chances of Benitez leaving any time soon.
Sounds ok to me, but as we know, it’s never that straight forward at Newcastle United!