The chances of Rafa Benitez staying on as Newcastle's manager beyond the end of this season has 'dramatically increased' in recent weeks, according to new reports.
The Spaniard had been linked to the vacant Leicester City job after the Foxes sacked Claude Puel, but with Brendan Rogers looking almost certain to take over at the King Power stadium, Benitez looks much more likely to stay on Tyneside than previously thought.
According to The Telegraph, the 58-year-old is already making plans for next season following a huge 2-0 win over Huddersfield Town, which moved the club four points clear of the relegation zone. Benitez is said to now be looking for 'an excuse to stay' following a recent upturn in the club's fortunes, highlighted by the recent purchase of club-record signing Miguel Almiron.
Benitez's preferred option is now to stay at Newcastle, providing he gets certain assurances - pertaining to transfer budget and academy improvements, among other criteria - from the club's owner Mike Ashley and managing director Lee Charnley.
Talks are yet to take place regarding the former Liverpool manager's future, and The Chronicle report that those conversations will not happen until Newcastle are mathematically safe from relegation.
On-loan striker Salomon Rondon has already stated he'd like to stay at the club, and Benitez will surely want to add four or five more first team players to avoid another scrap with relegation next season.
However, with the acquisition of Almiron - not to mention the form of Rondon and academy product Sean Longstaff - there is a renewed sense of optimism around St James' Park following a dismal start to the season, and this latest news concerning Benitez's future will only help to give further hope to the Magpies faithful that better times are ahead.