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Former Newcastle full back Davide Santon says he believes that Rafa Benitez is capable of taking the club forward in the long term, hailing the Spaniard as a 'great guy'.

Concerns have grown in recent weeks that Benitez may leave St James' Park at the end of the season if he does not receive certain assurances regarding the transfer policy at the club, with the Spaniard's contract expiring this summer.


The former Liverpool manager has been at Newcastle since March 2016. During that time he has won the Championship title and kept the Magpies clear of relegation, but has been frustrated by the lack of funds provided by club owner Mike Ashley.

“I worked with Rafa Benitez in Inter when I was younger, he is a great guy," Santon told the Chronicle. "I think he will do very well managing Newcastle through to this next phase. I wish them all the best.”

The Italian, who made 94 appearances for the Tyneside club, was a fan favourite among the Toon Army, and claimed he still has fond memories of his former side, which he left to rejoin Inter four years ago.

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Santon, who now plays under Claudio Ranieri at Roma, said: "Newcastle was one of the best experiences of my career, I loved the city, the fans and the club.

"My girlfriend is from there and so I still visit regularly too. The 2011/12 campaign is very memorable for me, we were a very strong team with a lot of great players.

"We were so close to the fourth position and the Champions League in the Premier League and managed to get to Europa League!"


The Magpies currently lie 13th in the Premier League table, seven points clear of relegation following a run of just one defeat in nine league games. They face a trip to Arsenal on Monday night.