Everything Rafa Benitez said about his future, transfers and his vision for Newcastle United
Newcastle United are now mathematically safe in the Premier League.
The club's 3-1 win over Southampton, and Cardiff City's defeat to Liverpool, have ensured another season of top-flight football at St James's Park.
But will Rafa Benitez, out of contract in the summer, will in charge next season?
Benitez – who wants United to compete higher up the Premier League – fielded more questions on his and the club's future after the Southampton game.
Newcastle's manager is still waiting for answers after outlining what it would take for him to sign a new deal at the club.
Here's what he had to say on a range of subjects:
“When you talk about quality, how much does quality cost? And how much will you pay in wages for these quality players? £120,000 a week? £150,000 a week? Or will you pay £50,000 a week?
"What does quality mean? Balance is the key, and you have to be sensible with that balance. You have to be realistic, but we have to find this balance. We have to compete with the teams that are between seventh and 10th, not think ‘can we finish seventh or can we finish 17th?’. I think that's a big difference."
Transfers and contracts
“At the moment, we don’t have any issues about any players, because I have not had any conversations. We have had to wait, but what I say is very clear. Until June 30, I'm the manager, and I have to decide if we sign anyone or not.
"I cannot decide some other things, but when it comes to that, yes, I decide. So we have to sit down any time and see where we are.
"Does it have to be soon? Yes, obviously. Because if you want to sign players, you have to go early, and if you want to sign the best players, you have to go even earlier. Even with young players, we can talk and talk, but the main thing is what you do."
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Signing older players
“(Martin) Dubravka won the Manchester United game for us last year, and he's not 24. (Salomon) Rondon has been crucial this year – these players can give the other players more time to grow and improve.
"I don’t need to talk too much about that, because it's very clear for everyone.
"We need to decide. Do we want to go one way or another way? Do we want to challenge to be seventh or do we want to challenge to be 17th and see what happens? That's it."
“It is not what we say, it is what we do. I don’t care about what we say, the main thing is what we do. The teams in seventh, eighth and ninth spend £100m and pay £100,000 a week.
"So what do we want to do? Do we want to compete in this range, or do we want to survive? That is it. That is what we have to decide. I have not had any answers, so I want to know what their answers are. If I have the answers, then I can decide. The main thing for me is not what we think or say, it's what we do."
“Everything is about money. If you sign a player like Richarlison for £45million, then you have to pay a certain amount in wages.
"We have to be able to compete. The way that we are, we have to be competing against Everton, but they're competing to be seventh and to go to Europe. If they're paying £140,000 a week in wages, how can you compete with them and attract players if you do not do the same?
"Even if you are willing to pay a big transfer fee, you have to be willing to pay the wages.
"Balance is the key. You can do things at this age, this price – Ki (Sung-yueng) is playing for us and was a free transfer, and is doing well. I will not say what we have to do. I just want to know what we want to do, and after that we have to decide. I will not force anyone to make any decisions."
“I will not say to anyone what they have to do. I have been in teams without too much money and winning trophies. Not just competing, winning trophies. Different teams, but more or less with the same money, against top sides, and winning trophies.
"I have some experience, and I know what I have to do with or without money. But I want to know where we are. That's it. Where do want to go?
"What's our ambition? If we cannot compete with other teams in transfer fees and wages, fine. We have to say that. But it doesn’t matter what we say, it's what we do."