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Rafa Benitez to begin talks with Mike Ashley over Newcastle future

The Telegraph logo The Telegraph 15/05/2019 Luke Edwards
Rafael Benitez wearing a suit and tie smiling at the camera: Benitez is seeking assurances that Ashley shares his sense of ambition to turn Newcastle into a top ten side in the Premier League © ACTION PLUS Benitez is seeking assurances that Ashley shares his sense of ambition to turn Newcastle into a top ten side in the Premier League

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.

NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE, ENGLAND - APRIL 17: Rafael Benitez gestures during the Newcastle United Training Session at Newcastle United Training Centre on April 17, 2019 in Newcastle upon Tyne, England. (Photo by Serena Taylor/Newcastle United) © 2019 Newcastle United NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE, ENGLAND - APRIL 17: Rafael Benitez gestures during the Newcastle United Training Session at Newcastle United Training Centre on April 17, 2019 in Newcastle upon Tyne, England. (Photo by Serena Taylor/Newcastle United)

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. 

NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE, ENGLAND - APRIL 24: Newcastle United Manager Rafael Benitez talks to players and staff during the Newcastle United Training Session at the Newcastle United Training Centre on April 24, 2019 in Newcastle upon Tyne, England. (Photo by Serena Taylor/Newcastle United) © 2019 Newcastle United NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE, ENGLAND - APRIL 24: Newcastle United Manager Rafael Benitez talks to players and staff during the Newcastle United Training Session at the Newcastle United Training Centre on April 24, 2019 in Newcastle upon Tyne, England. (Photo by Serena Taylor/Newcastle United) 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.

NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE, ENGLAND - MAY 08:  Newcastle United Manager Rafael Benitez  during the Newcastle United Training session at the Newcastle United Training Centre on May 08, 2019 in Newcastle upon Tyne, England. (Photo by Serena Taylor/Newcastle United) © 2019 Newcastle United NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE, ENGLAND - MAY 08: Newcastle United Manager Rafael Benitez during the Newcastle United Training session at the Newcastle United Training Centre on May 08, 2019 in Newcastle upon Tyne, England. (Photo by Serena Taylor/Newcastle United) 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.

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