As reported by the Times over the weekend, Newcastle United are preparing to open talks with Rafa Benítez about a new long-term contract – however the NUFC boss has asked the board to focus on new signings before any discussions begin over his future according to the Chronicle today.
Rafa’s contract ends at the end of next season and Mike Ashley is understood to be keen on extending his current contract. As we saw last week, Amanda Staveley’s takeover offers all included requirements that Benitez was in charge at the club, so it is clearly in Ashley’s interests to secure him to a long-term deal.
The Times claim that the NUFC owner is keen to have contract talks ‘n the hope of improving his relationship with the Spaniard, however a part of this will no doubt be with a view to making the club a more attractive proposition for potential new owners.
Here’s what the Chronicle have had to say on the matter, confirming that Rafa has made it clear that contract talks can wait until after new signing have arrived:
“Rafa Benitez will urge his Newcastle United board to focus on delivering new players for the remainder of the month ahead of talks about his own future.
“Weekend reports suggested that managing director Lee Charnley was ready to sit down and discuss a new contract extension for the Spaniard but during such a critical stage in the January window, Benitez knows that there is no time to waste when it comes to recruitment.
“The Toon manager’s future has also been spoken about at length by the club’s potential next owners Amanda Staveley and PCP Capital Partners, who say they could walk away if Benitez is not in charge.
“Benitez’s current deal does not expire until 2019 and the United chief doesn’t feel like his own situation is the priority at the moment with his squad feeling the heat of the Premier League’s relegation battle.
“Instead, Benitez – who indicated on Saturday night that Mike Ashley has now given him the “green light” to bring in new talent in the last few days – wants Charnley to help him bring in a new goalkeeper, a left-sided player and a striker to boost Newcastle’s chances of staying in the top flight this season.”
A positive move from the club, but a wise move from Rafa in response. There’s a theory behind it too. Rafa won’t be wanting to commit to a long contract with the club under Ashley’s watch unless the club seriously pull their finger out as far as new signings are concerned.
Delaying contract talks now puts pressure on the board to deliver the signings Rafa needs to keep us up this season, and you get the feeling they may be more inclined to deliver what he wants if they know it could make or break the chances of him penning a new deal in the months that follow.
Time for the board to pull their finger out and start signing. That’s the priority (as Rafa’s made clear) and it could also be the key to Benitez committing to a new contract.