Jamaal Lascelles says Newcastle United MUST keep Rafa Benitez at St James’s Park.
Benitez – who has a year left on his contract – guided the club to a 10th-placed finish this season.
Newcastle fans chanted “Rafa Benitez, we want you to stay” during Sunday’s 3-0 win over Chelsea.
Benitez wants to know that United’s ambitions match his own before he commits his longer-term future to the club.
Lascelles, appointed as captain by Benitez two years ago, says he would “do anything” to keep the 58-year-old on Tyneside if it was up to him.
“I can’t emphasise enough how important he is,” said Lascelles.
“If I was the owner, I’d do anything I can to keep him happy and make sure he stays.
“Since he’s been here, everything has been positive: promotion and then the first season in the Premier League we’ve survived comfortably.
“He’s won titles and cups at every level, and in different countries, so you just hope we can keep him. We have to keep him.”
Newcastle owner Mike Ashley said the team had been “led fantastically” by Lascelles, who believes he has come a long way thanks to Benitez’s guidance.
I can’t emphasise enough how important he is. If I was the owner, I’d do anything I can to keep him happy and make sure he stays.Jamaal Lascelles
“On the pitch, I’ve improved a lot,” said the 24-year-old. “Off the pitch,I’ve improved as captain, too.
“It’s all down to him. I have a lot of one-on-ones with him. His door is always open, and that helps so much.
“The players appreciate him and the time he gives us. Everything he says – we hang on every word he says – and then we back it up with what we do out on the pitch. You can see it every game.
“We don’t question anything he says, because he’s Rafa Benitez: he’s the man, he’s the boss, he’s the one with all the experience. He’s huge for us.”
Reflecting on United’s season, Lascelles added: “This was the perfect end to a really positive season.
“We had a little blip in the four games previously, but we thought as players that we really needed to give something back to the fans, and we did that against Chelsea.”