The endgame is in sight at Newcastle United as Mike Ashley waits on Rafa Benitez's answer

Mike Ashley is waiting on a decision from Rafa Benitez at Newcastle United – after making his final offer to the club's manager.

Monday, 3rd June 2019, 8:36 pm
Rafa Benitez.

Ashley met Benitez, out of contract in the summer, for talks in London last month.

Benitez had been hoping for a quick resolution after guiding United to a 13th-placed finish in the Premier League last season.

Rafa Benitez.

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The 59-year-old was looking for reassurances that he could move the club, which was put up for sale by Ashley in October 2017, in the "right direction".

Benitez wanted a defined transfer budget, more leeway in terms of wages and the freedom to sign players, like 29-year-old loanee Salomon Rondon, in their late 20s.

Speaking last month, Benitez said: "I'm going to the meeting in a positive way, because we have the potential and we can do a lot of things better.

Mike Ashley and Lee Charnley.

"If we do that we’ll have more chance to be closer to the top 10. Do I think we can change everything in one window and be in the top six? No. Can we get closer? Yes. We can head in the right direction."

News broke of the Bin Zayed Group's interest in buying the club after Benitez's discussions with Ashley.

However, a takeover could be weeks, or even months, away, and fans are anxiously waiting for news on Benitez's future at St James's Park with the start of pre-season training just a month away.

Newcastle have made no comment on the situation, while Benitez touched on the uncertainty when asked about his situation in Madrid ahead of Saturday's Champions League final.

"I'm open to new possibilities," said Benitez. "I don’t know what will happen over the next couple of months."

Ashley is understood to be waiting for a response from Benitez, having outlined the financial backing he can expect if he stays at St James's Park.

It is not clear how much autonomy Ashley is prepared to grant Benitez in the transfer market.

What is clear is that any transfer spending will have to come from the club's profits, with Ashley unwilling to put any more money into the club.

Speaking in April, managing director Lee Charnley said: "Our budget to strengthen the team has been circa £122million over the last two seasons, which was an initial agreed budget of £70million plus an additional £52million generated as a result of sales and outgoing loans.

“We have spent just over 90% of that, and the balance of £11million will be carried forward to supplement what we have for forthcoming transfer windows.”