Rafa Benitez gives contract update on Vurnon Anita and Yoan Gouffran at Newcastle

Newcastle midfielder Vurnon Anita. Picture by Frank Reid
Newcastle midfielder Vurnon Anita. Picture by Frank Reid
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Rafa Benitez wants to keep Vurnon Anita and Yoan Gouffran at Newcastle United.

Anita and Gouffran are in the final year of their deals at St James’s Park.

The club is talking with the agents, and now it’s a question of time.

Rafa Benitez

The pair – who can talk to other clubs from next month – have been regulars for Benitez in the Championship this season.

And United’s manager says there have been preliminary discussions with their representatives over new deals.

Asked about 27-year-old utility player Anita and Gouffran, Benitez said: “The club is talking with the agents, and now it’s a question of time.”

Gouffran had been available for transfer in the summer, but he turned down the offers on the table.

The 30-year-old forward – who fell out of favour last season during Steve McClaren’s ill-fated tenure – has since gone on to impress under Benitez.

Cheick Tiote is also in the final year of his Newcastle deal.

The midfielder – who has seen a number of proposed moves away collapse over the past 12 months – is likely to leave in January’s transfer window.

Benitez and managing director Lee Charnley are also planning the Magpies’ incoming transfer business.

There is money available to spend if the right player becomes available.

For his part, Benitez – who could lose four players to the Africa Cup of Nations next month – has a clear idea of where his squad needs to be strengthened.

“I know what we need, but it’s too early,” said Benitez, whose side take on Birmingham City at St James’s Park this afternoon.

“We have to concentrate on the games and keep working in the same way to see if we can get the targets I have. You have to wait.

“I am really pleased with the squad.

“But we know we have players who are at the African Cup of Nations and others who are out of contract, so we have to try and balance the team as much as we can just in case.”

Meanwhile, one player who won’t be leaving in the January window is Daryl Murphy.

Murphy, signed from Ipswich Town in the summer, has made two EFL Cup appearances for the club.

Benitez feels the 33-year-old striker could have an important role to play in the second half of the season.

Ipswich manager Mick McCarthy this week dismissed speculation in East Anglia that Murphy was set to return to Portman Road on loan.

And Benitez said: “I’m really pleased with him.

“I was talking with him the other day. The only problem he has is that Dwight (Gayle) and (Aleksandar) Mitrovic are scoring a lot of goals.

“He’s a good player. He had an injury, but now he’s training well I’m really pleased with him.”