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Full Time

Benitez in ‘tricky’ situation as talks over new Magpies contract continue

Discussions are ongoing over a contract extension at St James’ Park.

Rafael Benitez has admitted he is in a “tricky” situation as he discusses extending his contract at Newcastle.

The Magpies are desperate to tie up the Spaniard, who is two years into a three-year deal, in a longer arrangement, although he has indicated he is only likely to agree if he gets the guarantees he wants about the club’s ambition and the funding to back it.

Asked if he wants to stay, Benitez said: “That is a tricky question. I said in an interview the other day on the BBC I decided to stay because of the potential, the fans and the city. Then we have to do what we have to do.”

Benitez, who has been linked with both Napoli and Leicester in recent days, has been frustrated during three of his four transfer windows to date on Tyneside by the restrictions under which he has had to work, and has warned the club he cannot perform miracles every season.

With Newcastle now safe in the Premier League and fighting for a top-10 finish, he is keen to be given the wherewithal to challenge the sides immediately below the top six next season and target bigger things thereafter.

Benitez, who confirmed that contract talks are ongoing but not significantly further forward, vowed to continue to fight his corner, while insisting his was not a negative approach.

He said: “Sometimes people think that is negative, but I think it is a positive because it means you care. I am not thinking about myself.

“At Valencia, they said, ‘We will give you this player and you can make him into a proper player’, so sometimes it is negative against me because I can work with players and improve them and they think you do not need to spend too much money.

“But if you want to go to another level, you need more quality.”

Benitez takes his team to Watford on Saturday without winger Christian Atsu, who has undergone knee surgery.

The manager said: “It wasn’t a big issue, but he had some discomfort and we needed to fix the problem now to be sure that next year, he is fine.”

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