Is Rafa Benitez set for a new deal at Newcastle? Here's what we know

Rafa Benitez
Rafa Benitez

Newcastle United are set to open talks with Rafa Benitez over a new long-term contract, according to a report.

Benitez's contract at St James's Park expires at the end of next season.

And The Times report that the club is preparing to open talks "in the hope of improving the manager’s relationship with owner Mike Ashley".

However, the Gazette understands that there are no immediate plans to discuss a new deal with Benitez, who is preparing his side for Sunday's home game against his former club Liverpool.

This position could change later in the season.

Benitez hasn't spoken to Ashley since May, when the pair had talks over the summer transfer window in the wake of the club's promotion to the Premier League.

Mike Ashley and Lee Charnley

Mike Ashley and Lee Charnley

But Benitez quickly became frustrated after United lost out on a series of transfer targets.

Ashley, it is claimed, has made several "overtures" to Benitez – who has a reported £5.5million release clause in his contract – in recent weeks.

Benitez called a truce in his "fight" with Ashley earlier this month.

"There’s a time to fight, and I was fighting to improve my team in the way I think we have to improve," said the 57-year-old.

Meanwhile Jamie Carragher – who played for Benitez at Liverpool – waded into the debate about Benitez's future last night.

Carragher told Monday Night Football: "If I'm being totally honest, I don't expect to see Rafa Benitez at Newcastle over a sustained, long period of time.

"I think eventually something will happen with him and the owner, and, unfortunately for Newcastle, this isn't going to be a happy and long marriage.

"So enjoy it while he's here."