Owner Mike Ashley has ordered managing director Lee Charnley to tie Rafa Benitez down to a new long-term contract before July after a successful return to the Premier League for Newcastle United.
Following relegation, Ashley took a huge gamble with his club by investing heavily in the transfer market. As well as boasting the largest wage bill ever in the Championship, Ashley moved to secure Benitez’s future at the club.
The Spaniard agreed to see out his three-year contract and the gamble paid off as he guided the club back to the Premier League at the first time of asking. Benitez built on promotion with a strong first campaign back in the top flight, ending with a top ten finish.
With less than a year remaining on the initial deal, Ashley has made Benitez’s long-term future a priority again this summer. As the club seeks to add to their squad in the transfer window, hopefully keeping them competitive at this level, Ashley wants a new contract in place for the manager before pre-season begins.
According to The Chronicle Benitez is already on £4m a year and wouldn’t request a major pay rise beyond that. He may want certain other assurances over the clubs future though, as rumours surfaced throughout the season of his leaving the club due to Ashley's unwillingness to invest properly in the transfer window prior to the 2017/18 Premier League season.
Newcastle had struggled for much of the season and Benitez was alleged to have been frustrated with the lack of funds made available to him. He was linked with several vacant positions last campaign, which may be why Ashley is seeking such urgency with the matter.
Ashley has been trying to sell the club for a while after a turbulent time in charge that has led to two relegations. His willingness to offload the club likely led to his lack of investment in past transfer windows. A deal with Amanda Staveley for the sale of the club was expected to be completed before January but has not yet come to pass.
It is believed the club is still up for sale but the club's prospects and value is likely to be boosted should Benitez decide to commit his future to the Magpies.