The Independent is reporting that contract talks with Rafa Benitez and the Newcastle hierarchy have been put on hold until the end of the season.
Owner Mike Ashley is keen to get Rafa sign a new long-term contract with the current deal worth £6M/year scheduled to run out at the end of June next year.
The report is that Rafa wants to focus on the final eight games of the season and keep Newcastle in the Premier League.
At the end of the season, it appears that Rafa will then go into negotiations with Newcastle to try to do a deal – but he will need to get some cast-iron assurances from Mike Ashley before he will sign a new contract.
But both sides are said to be willing to do a deal so that’s good.
Rafa Benitez – praying a deal is possible?
Rafa has been talking about various things – like the Youth Academy and scouting where improvements have been made or will be made under Rafa’s guidance.
So he has been looking to the future in some of his interviews this year.
There’s no doubt Rafa has been let down in the last three transfer windows by Ashley.
But for the last several months the manager hasn’t said much about his frustrations and is getting on with the job of making Newcastle safe in the Premier League.
We cannot see Rafa staying unless Mike Ashley agrees to spend money on players Rafa wants – and the owner was unwilling to pay out £20M for Danish striker Nicola Jorgensen in January.
But there seems to have been a warming of the relationship between Ashley and Benitez this year with Rafa having a talk to Ashley in mid-January.
It also seems Rafa now has a direct line into the owner and maybe that’s why Rafa has been fairly upbeat about what’s been happening recently.
Rafa did get two players he wanted in during January – Dubravka and Kenedy – and they have been excellent for us so far.
For Rafa to sign a new contract, he must have a better relationship with owner Mike Ashley – there has to be some trust there.
If Rafa cannot work something out whereby he has more freedom in the transfer market, he could walk away.
But his fabulous relationship with the Geordie fans suggests he doesn’t want to do that.
He needs to be able to sign the players he wants to sign and not the ones he can sign – which is what happened last summer.
Being safe and having Rafa sign a new deal early in the summer is what we want to see.
If that gets done early – it will be a very exciting summer for Newcastle fans everywhere.
Howay The Lads!!