As revealed by the Telegraph, Rafa Benitez and Mike Ashley WILL have a sit down meeting to discuss terms of a new contract today – and it’s claimed that the NUFC owner is ‘willingness to compromise’ to keep the Spaniard at St James’ Park.
Luke Edwards’ latest piece also says that the two parties are feeling ‘positive’ ahead of today’s meeting – which is said to be taking place at a secret location in London.
The report also states that an announcement is expected to be made ‘over the weekend’ if talks progress well – meaning we may have an answer over the next 48-72 hours.
Here’s what North-East reporter Luke Edwards has had to say in his latest piece for the Telegraph:
‘Rafa Benitez is expected to have his first sit down meeting with owner Mike Ashley on Thursday to thrash out the terms of a new contract to remain as Newcastle United manager.
‘The Spaniard has already set out what he wants to happen this summer in terms of player recruitment and how large a budget he wants to spend to managing director Lee Charnley, but has not had an opportunity to explain his vision to Ashley in person.
‘Benitez is seeking assurances that Ashley shares his sense of ambition to turn Newcastle into a top ten side in the Premier League, with the aim to steadily improve the quality of the squad each season so that they can eventually compete to play in Europe again.
‘The former Liverpool, Chelsea and Real Madrid manager also wants to discover if he will have the freedom to sign players over the age of 26 if they are available and the club can afford them, particularly as he would like to turn Salomon Rondon’s loan move from WBA into a permanent switch this summer, even though the striker will turn 30 next season.
‘Ashley and Benitez have had a tense relationship for much of the last two seasons, with Benitez complaining he had not been given the financial support he had been promised when he agreed to stay on as manager after relegation to the Championship in 2016.
‘But the mood heading into the talks has been described as positive on both sides, with a willingness to compromise in order for Benitez to feel comfortable enough to sign an extension to a deal that is due to expire at the end of June.
‘The meeting is thought to taking place at a secret location in London and an announcement could be made regarding a contract extension over the weekend if things progress well.‘
It remains to be seen if this meeting will lead to the ‘good news’ we’re hoping and praying for, but there’s several parts of this piece that suggest there could be a positive outcome.
The biggest positive for me is the fact Edwards states that there’s now a ‘willingness to compromise’ on Mike Ashley’s part – something that will be key in Rafa’s attempts to sign a 29-year-old Salomon Rondon for £16.5m this summer.
It’s also a step in the right direction to hear that Mike Ashley IS actually meeting with Benitez. After all, talks have dragged and Benitez will have been growing increasingly frustrated if he was denied the chance to thrash things out with the man who calls the shots. It should have happened months ago, but the fact they’re meeting must be seen as a step in the right direction – especially when it’s said both parties are in a ‘positive’ mood ahead of today’s crunch talks.
Let’s hope we hear good news over the weekend!