During a radio interview in Spain today, Rafa Benitez has admitted that he’s flattered by links to Arsenal, but is in touch with the NUFC board over a potential new contract – confirming he would like to stay at Newcastle ‘in principle’.
The gaffer has secured our Premier League status with a win over Arsenal on Sunday (a club he’s been linked to in the past 48 hours), so all attention has now turned to his future at the club.
Here’s what Rafa had to say when Radio MARCA asked if he could see himself staying at St James’ Park for several more seasons:
“Yes, in principle we are relaxed. We have one more year of contract and now the board are trying that we talk a little bit about the future because the talk now is always about ‘projects’.
“With so much investment it is increasingly difficult but they want to link us to the club for more time so that we can make a stronger team if possible.”
It’s crystal clear at this point really. Rafa has confirmed here that the club are making contact over a potential new deal, but he’s restated that he’s only relaxed about staying for several more years ‘in principle’ – challenging the board to step up and deliver before he commits to the club.
He then addressed the recent rumours linking him to Arsene Wenger’s job at Arsenal:
“The fact that you get linked (to Arsenal), it is something positive because it makes you proud of your career trajectory.
“People in England are conscious of the fact that experience in the Premier League is important and, what is more, you go to other competitions and other leagues and win as well.
“They see that experience, when a team is struggling to get into the top four, with that experience – the coaches who while they are still young, because 58 for a coach is still young – they know the Premier League, and they know what it is to compete, what it is to win, that is what they value.
“There are people that talk about ‘Young coaches and we give them time’, but when a club wants to win quickly what they want is results and results with people who have been here for a while and know what the Premier League is and how difficult it can be.”
Interesting that Rafa doesn’t distance himself from the job, but this is perhaps a wise and calculated move from Rafa.
Ashley and co. will soon worry if they genuinely believe Benitez could walk and sign elsewhere this summer, and this could just tip them over the edge and make them see sense.
In all of this it’s far more preferable that we see new owners arrive at Newcastle this summer, but there’s every chance Ashley stays, so figuring out a way we can keep Benitez in the meantime is massive.