Rafael Benitez has revealed talks over his Newcastle future are under way and ongoing.
The Spaniard has a year remaining on his existing deal but the Magpies are keen to tie him to an extended contract after seeing him guide the club back into the Premier League at the first attempt and secure survival with weeks to spare.
Fans fear his achievements and owner Mike Ashley’s admission he cannot afford to fund a drive to the next level may see Benitez lured away from St James’ Park if no takeover goes through this summer, but the first blows have now been struck.
The former Liverpool and Real Madrid boss, who will lead his side into battle with West Brom on Saturday, said: “We have had conversations and we will have conversations next week.
“My representatives are talking with [managing director] Lee Charnley and that’s it. I will not say anything else about that because I want to concentrate on football and the game.”
Asked if those conversations related to his future, he replied: “About everything, but that is part of the conversation next week. We will have another meeting and we will see how it’s going.”
The club’s supporters will be desperate for those discussions, which will also include transfer budgets and longer-term planning, to be concluded swiftly and successfully.
Benitez said: “I think that’s good for everybody.”
The 58-year-old is keen to have the spending power to be able to add quality and experience to the young players he has been asked to develop having struggled to do so during recent transfer windows.
However, he was somewhat mischievous when asked to pay tribute to departing Barcelona star Andres Iniesta.
He said: “Has he said to which team he will go or not?”
When it was suggested Newcastle might be a possibility, he replied with a smile: “That could be fine. We can prepare something for him right now.
“In LaLiga, with Spain, Barcelona were really lucky to have players like Messi, Xavi, Busquets, Iniesta, Pique, all these players together at the same time.
“He was one of the key players in this group of players, and also going with Spain. You saw him on the ball and it was a pleasure.
“He’s a great player, he’s a nice person and hopefully he will do well wherever he goes. They say he will go to China, but maybe he would like to come here.”
Stay updated with the latest news, gossip and football stories by following us @Football_P