Newcastle United briefing: Rafa Benitez's 'culture' club, Chelsea striker 'on radar'

Isaac Hayden
Isaac Hayden

Ever wondered what it's like to play for Rafa Benitez at Newcastle United?

Isaac Hayden has given a fascinating insight into life behind the scenes at the Championship-winning club under Benitez.

We also have the latest on transfers.

Here's your daily briefing:

'Culture' club

Hayden loves playing for Newcastle.

Isaac Hayden and Rafa Benitez

Isaac Hayden and Rafa Benitez

And he loves the "culture" manager Benitez has brought to the club.

“It’s his passion for the game that drew me in," said the midfielder, signed from Arsenal last summer.

"I love football and I want to improve to be the best I can. I haven’t worked so hard for all those years to be mediocre. Rafa’s got the same drive and determination I have. “It’s the culture Rafa brings – a family mentality.

“He’s made it a situation where Newcastle isn’t a stepping stone.

Newcastle's players celebrate the title

Newcastle's players celebrate the title

"He says you should want to put on this black-and-white shirt, going out and giving 100%, and if you don’t, you won’t play. He makes it so that players are desperate to play, not only for him but for the club and that’s why we’ve had the success this season.”

Read more from his interview with The Times here.

Contract talks

Andre Gray is set for contract talks with Burnley now the season is finished.

Andre Gray

Andre Gray

The striker has a year left on his deal at Turf Moor – and will be sold if he doesn't agree a new contract.

Newcastle are among the clubs monitoring Gray's situation.

Meanwhile, United are interested in Chelsea striker Michy Batshuayi, according to reports in his native Belgium.

The 23-year-old is said to be "on the radar" of Newcastle.

Batshuayi, previously a target for the club during his time at Olympique Marseille, has been a fringe player for the Premier League champions.

Four-midable

FA Vase winners South Shields

FA Vase winners South Shields

South Shields beat Cleethorpes Town 4-0 at Wembley yesterday to lift the FA Vase.

And four former Newcastle players were involved.

Carl Finnigan put Shields ahead from the penalty spot, while Alex Nicholson, Darren Lough and substitute Michael Richardson also played for the non-league club at the national stadium.

Shields were backed by up to 15,000 fans at Wembley.

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