Digital Football Journalist @ronnabe
Rafa Benitez says Newcastle must compete with top-half teams but does not know if he will stay at club
Last Updated: 21/04/19 9:46am
Rafa Benitez demanded Newcastle compete with top-half clubs for transfers - but said he does not know if he will stay at the club with barely two months left on his contract.
Benitez has previously hinted he could remain at St James' Park, and, barring a Cardiff miracle, has led them to safety in this season's Premier League despite public clashes with the club hierarchy, questions over the club's ownership, and a negative net transfer spend.
But after their 3-1 win over Southampton, when asked if he expected to discuss a new deal this week, he replied: "I have no idea.
"Any time, we have to talk because at the end, everything that will happen on June 30 has to be good for everyone. Until then I have to decide if we sign anyone, so we have to talk any time.
"Our level, I think, has to be between seventh and 10th and we have to compete with these teams in the transfer window, in the wage bill and everything. We need to find a balance.
"We signed (Martin) Dubravka last year and he won the first game against Manchester United, and he's more than 24, we have (Miguel) Almiron doing well and we have (Salomon) Rondon, who are more than 24 and doing well.
"At the same time, we have (Isaac) Hayden, (Jamaal) Lascelles, or even (Sean) Longstaff, so the balance is the key."
Having all but secured safety with three games to go, Benitez was content with another good day's work thanks to Newcastle's sixth home win of 2019 - only Manchester City and Arsenal have picked up more.
But with a top-half finish still a possible, if outside shot, for the Magpies, the Spanish boss re-focused his attention to the final three games of the season after moving past the magic 40-point mark.
He said: "To have at this stage of the season 41 points, nearly safe - mathematically we cannot say that we are safe, but nearly safe - is really important, and now we have three games, and we have to try to do our best to be as high as possible in the table."