Newcastle ‘on brink of confirming Rafael Benitez stay’

Date published: Wednesday 25th May 2016 12:15

Rafael Benitez: Close to confirming he'll stay at Newcastle

Rafael Benitez is believed to be close to agreeing a deal to remain as Newcastle manager.

Discussions which began after the club’s relegation from the Premier League on May 11 are believed to have proved fruitful.

Hopes are high around St James’ Park that a formal agreement with the 56-year-old has been reached, who admitted “his heart was telling him to stay” at St James’ Park.

Some supporters had grown anxious at the delay confirming Benitez’s continued presence or otherwise. Sources close to the talks insisted there was nothing sinister in the protracted nature of the negotiations, which were always expected to last weeks rather than days.

The fact the former Valencia, Liverpool, Inter Milan, Real Madrid and Napoli manager did not exercise his right to walk away in the immediate aftermath of relegation is a reflection both of the effect public support for his appointment had on him, and his belief he can restore the club’s fortunes given the right backing.

Newcastle were impressed with Benitez’s early work, even if his initial rescue mission did come up short, and a club which has found itself at loggerheads with large sections of its support for much of owner Mike Ashley’s reign to date is keen to harness a rare dose of positivity from its latest brush with adversity.

Benitez, who also took charge of Chelsea on an interim basis in 2012, had started to identify potential signings for the Magpies. The Spaniard had also sought assurances over the extent of his remit with player recruitment and disposal a major focus.

Club officials needed to assess whether or not his ideas were workable within their model – one which would have to change significantly from the one they have employed in recent seasons.

The first group of Newcastle players are due to return for pre-season training on June 28, six days after the 2016/17 Championship fixtures are announced.

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