Newcastle United manager Rafa Benitez has admitted that he would not be surprised if the club began searching for a new manager, as the uncertainty around his contract situation continues.
The Spaniard's current contract runs out at the end of the season, and he has hesitated to agree on fresh terms to extend his stay at the club. As a result, rumours have emerged suggesting Newcastle have employed agents to find out who would be willing to replace Benitez, with Lyon's Bruno Genesio thought to be top of their wish list.
When asked about the reports, Benitez admitted the speculation is nothing out of the ordinary. He is quoted by the Newcastle Chronicle as saying: “My experience is that they can talk about managers because it is an opportunity, and they will talk about teams for me because I didn’t sign the extension.
"That is football. You cannot stop agents talking and offering people. It is something that is fine. It happens.
“How many times can you read about players who might be signing for your club? I remember it at Napoli, and it is the same here. You will have the transfer window at the start, then you have 100 names. How many of them are accurate? It is the same.
"I am in contact with [club director] Lee Charnley, and I will say more or less the same. We have to make sure we are safe, then it will be easier. We can keep talking but the main thing will be to concentrate on the games.”
The Magpies are keen for Benitez to extend his stay at St James' Park, as he has proven to be a popular figure amongst the club's fans. However, he is yet to agree on a new contract at the club, with many speculating that he has grown frustrated with senior officials and the transfer policy at the club.
A perceived lack of financial commitment from owner Mike Ashley was widely believed to be one of Benitez's primary concerns, but these issues may well have disappeared as the club broke their transfer record to sign midfielder Miguel Almiron in January.