Benitez undecided on his Newcastle future — so Chelsea game could be his last

Rafa Benitez has yet to decide whether to stay in charge of Newcastle next season.

The Spanish coach will thrash out his future next week, but sources say he does not know if Sunday’s Premier League finale at home to Chelsea will be his last Magpies game.

Toon owner Mike Ashley will have to fight to keep the 58-year-old, who wants a series of transfer-related guarantees.

Boss Benitez is interested in a long-term stay on Tyneside so he can build a squad that can challenge for trophies, but agreement is a long way away.

The ex-Liverpool and Real Madrid boss wants a business plan, with cash set aside for a transfer kitty.

He is also seeking the power to negotiate deals, alongside MD Lee Charnley, without interference from above — his view is that if he wants to blow his entire transfer budget on just a couple of players, he should be allowed to.

Last summer, the fan favourite was left fuming as deals were blocked or delayed.

Benitez — who also wants a commitment to improve Newcastle’s training ground and academy — still has one year left on his contract and won’t sign a new deal until Ashley, who has the club up for sale, gives him assurances.

The dispute is not about a demand for cash, but the freedom to get deals done.

On Friday, Benitez reported “nothing new” in his contract talks.

He said: “First, we are still talking. I still have a contract, that is positive. We will wait to see what we get. The question is what we can achieve.

“This club has to be in the top 10. How? We have to do a lot of things right and to start making the right decisions now.

“In England, you can see that if you have an idea and the idea is right and you have the support, you can carry on improving. You can have a project — a proper project, not just for the Press, a proper project, working every day. We did that at Liverpool in the time I was there.”

Skipper Jamaal Lascelles has been linked with a big-money move, most recently to Everton.

Benitez wants to keep his key defender but he added: “People say ‘Wheel and deal’ and sometimes you have to do it because, if not, you don’t have any money.”

Will Rafa Benitez still be Newcastle manager next season?


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