Newcastle United have reportedly begun tentative talks over the possibility of offering a new contract to manager Rafael Benitez.
The Chronicle Live newspaper has claimed that the Magpies are desperate to hang on to the Spaniard beyond the end of his current deal, which runs out in June 2019.
Benitez's relationship with owner Mike Ashley has seemingly soured in recent times due to the latter's failure to significantly back the ex-Liverpool boss in the summer transfer market, but the club remain confident of retaining his services.
That confidence has now resulted in Newcastle wanting to begin negotiations with Benitez and his advisers over a new long-term deal to keep him at St.James' Park, and out of the hands of reported interested party West Ham United.
The Hammers have been linked with swooping for the 55-year-old if they decide to sack current gaffer Slaven Bilic and, with Benitez said to have a £5.5m release clause fee in his contract in the north east, would be able to shell out the necessary funds to bring him to the capital.
That clause, along with Ashley's desire to keep Benitez on Tyneside as a major pull to any potential would-be new owner, has forced the club into action and, while discussions are still at a very early stage, Newcastle will hope that Benitez ends up going nowhere.
Newcastle have begun the 2017/18 campaign in decent nick. The Magpies have nine points from their opening six Premier League matches and find themselves perched in the relative safety of mid-table at this early stage of the season.
That is in spite of Ashley failing to provide Benitez with the seemingly promised transfer funds to truly bolster his senior squad in the off season - a decision which left Benitez less than impressed given the conversations he had with Newcastle's hierarchy ahead of this term.
The former Real Madrid and Napoli boss was able to secure the signatures of the likes of Joselu, Christian Atsu and Mikel Merino, but he is still some way short of being happy with the players at his disposal.