Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley is set to sit down with manager Rafael Benitez today, as the pair discuss the Spaniard’s contract situation at St. James’ Park.
Benitez, a popular figure in the north east, has earned the Magpies promotion from the Championship followed by tenth and 13th placed finishes in the two seasons since.
As reported by The Times, the former Liverpool boss is said to want greater control over transfer budgets, including how and when the money is spent, before agreeing to a new deal.
Newcastle broke their transfer record in the January window by signing Miguel Almiron from Atlanta United for a fee of around £20m. The Paraguayan has impressed during his time on Tyneside and played a key role in the Magpies’ turnaround of form in 2019.
After two seasons in which Newcastle have spent most of their time looking over their shoulders at the relegation zone, Benitez is said to be eager to compete with teams higher up in the Premier League table. More signings of the Almiron’s ilk could be key to convincing the Spanish manager to stay.
A stumbling block in persuading the Magpies boss to stay is the apparent breakdown of trust between the two individuals – a trust which has slowly deteriorated during Benitez’s three-year spell at the club.
The pair have held talks on and off for the best part of 18 months, but have not yet managed to come to an agreement. Ashley is due to meet the manager in London on Thursday, as he looks to end the contract stalemate.
Benitez’s current deal is due to expire at the end of next month, and if Ashley wants to prove he has ambitions to compete in the top half of the Premier League, tying his manager down to a long-term contract would be the best way to start.