According to Sky Sports reporter Keith Downie, it’s looking likely – according to his information – that Rafa Benitez will sign a new long-term contract at Newcastle United.
After 10 days of silence on the matter, the north-east reporter gives quite an in-depth update on the current state of play – and seems to think us Newcastle fans will eventually hear the news we’ve been waiting for next week.
Downie claims that there has been a few ‘sticking points’ between the two parties, with lots of paper work to do and plenty ‘toing and froing’, but he stats that lawyers, agents are now involved to go through the ‘finer details of the contract’.
After all of that, he insists that he’s hearing ‘positive noises’ from both Rafa’s camp and the club itself, believing the Spaniard will put pen to paper.
Here’s what he’s had to say during Sky Sports’ latest podcast:
“My information a week ago, two weeks ago, was that it was close.
“I know that they have been in dialogue for the best part of a week now, they met last Thursday (16 May).
“When I say they, I mean Rafa Benitez, Lee Charnley the club’s managing director and Mike Ashley. Those talks carried on into the Friday and then everyone headed off on their separate directions.
“I’m told lawyers, agents and others are now involved in going through the finer details of the contract.
“It’s kind of just the way Newcastle do things really, they never do it easily or quickly.
“I can understand why the supporters are getting frustrated but they need a bit of time.
“There’s no point in getting irate and getting angry and putting too much pressure on because the one thing the supporters want and they’ve made it clear is that Benitez remains at the club.
“I know it’s difficult for them (Newcastle fans) but they probably just need to give them some time to get this done. They should…the information I’m getting…get their wish and Rafa Benitez will sign a long-term contract.
“There’s plenty of sticking points, Ashley has ran the club in a certain way over the last 5-10 years where they only sign players of a certain age. He doesn’t like signing players over the age of 26, 27 who don’t have any sell-on value.
“That’s something Rafa Benitez wants to change. He wants to change the wage structure, he wants to sign players who will earn more than £100,000-a-week.
“At the moment Newcastle’s highest earner is on £75,000-a-week. There’s certain things he wants to change. It’s not that he wants to be given £50m or £100m every transfer window.
“Benitez feels he’s been not so much lied to…but he feels promises haven’t been kept in the past, so he wants all these assurances in writing.
“So there’s a lot of paperwork and a lot of toing and froing to go through.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if it goes into next week but the noises I’m hearing are positive ones from inside the club and Rafa’s side.
“I suppose with Newcastle and the way they are and the way things have gone in the past, no one will actually believe that until they see it in writing and he’s standing inside St James’ Park with a scarf above his head.”
It’s interesting to read that Rafa is said to be more focused on his freedom to sign players over the age of 26 – and not the transfer budget itself. This should come as no surprise given any deal for Salomon Rondon will rely on a change of transfer policy, however one of his demands must be for Ashley to at least hand him a competitive transfer budget.
The Chronicle claim today that a budget of £60-70m, plus player sales, could be offered to him this summer.
Downie also hints that Rafa wants to see us offering more competitive wages, with our highest earner currently on £75,000 – a hefty amount but no doubt a figure the likes of Wolves, Everton and West Ham could eclipse.
Let’s hope we hear the announcement we’ve been waiting for soon!