New contract for Benitez has to be Newcastle’s main focus

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Newcastle United have endured a varying start to the season, winning three and losing three of their opening six matches, but overall the signs are positive for the Tyneside outfit’s young team as they look to establish themselves as Premier League regulars.

Following their immediate return to the top-flight last season, where the Magpies won the Championship title ahead of Chris Hughton’s Brighton, Newcastle’s focus is now securing the stability they need for the future and establishing a platform to build upon.

It’s been a topsy-turvy few years for the North East side but the appointment of Rafael Benitez has proved to be extremely beneficial, with the Spaniard’s years of experience with the likes of Liverpool, Chelsea and Real Madrid proving effective.

With the Magpies not yet established as a top-end club though, the risk of losing Benitez is great and Premier League rivals West Ham have been heavily linked to the experienced boss once again as the pressure on Slaven Bilic increases.

The Hammers have thus far been unable to push towards glory following their move to the London Stadium from Upton Mark and Croatian boss Bilic is extremely unlikely to see out the season, having won just once in the Premier League so far this term.

That’s despite the East London side investing heavily in the summer to bring in the likes of Marko Arnautovic, Javier Hernandez, Pablo Zabaleta and Joe Hart, which shows that West Ham have money to spend where necessary- something that Benitez doesn’t have with Newcastle.

Mike Ashley has been reluctant to invest over the course of the summer, despite Benitez’ pushes to bring more faces in, and the fact that the chairman is keen to selling the side means that funds are unlikely to be made available.

That could make the prospect of moving to West Ham appealing for Benitez but Newcastle need to do all they can to fend off the interest in their Spanish saviour, as they’ll find it extremely difficult to find a replacement who can provide the benefits that Benitez does.

The TimesĀ states that Newcastle are set to open contract talks with Benitez to fend off the interest from West Ham, even adding that the Spaniard considered resigning from his post during the summer due to a lack of support from the board.

Benitez’ bridges with the Newcastle hierarchy needs to be repaired quickly if the Magpies are to push forward, as they aim on reaching the magic 40-point margin in the Premier League; which should see them avoid an immediate return to the second-tier.

Newcastle’s boss is likely to seek assurances before he extends his contract, with his current deal expiring in 2019, which means Ashley may have to put some money on the table for the January transfer window and beyond.

Any negotiations of a sale could throw a spanner in the works there, although Benitez could back a change of regime if it meant more financial support from those upstairs.

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