Jamaal Lascelles reveals his view on Rafa Benitez and his Newcastle United future

Jamaal Lascelles.
Jamaal Lascelles.

Jamaal Lascelles says Newcastle United MUST get down to business – and keep Rafa Benitez at St James’s Park.

Benitez, out of contract in the summer, hopes to discuss his future with owner Mike Ashley this week.

United fans chanted “Rafa Benitez, we want you to stay” after Sunday’s 4-0 win over Fulham.

And Benitez suggested at Craven Cottage that he was hopeful an agreement could be reached with Ashley.

Lascelles and his team-mates, like Newcastle’s supporters, are now waiting for news.

Asked about the fans chants, Lascelles said: “The players think the same – we all want him to stay.

Rafa Benitez.

Rafa Benitez.

“Since he’s been here, he’s been great. Hopefully, we can sort some business out and tie him down.”

Benitez, Newcastle’s manager, guided the club to a 13th-placed finish this season despite being forced to sell to buy last summer, when the club made a profit on player trading of more than £20million.

And Lascelles, appointed captain by Benitez three years ago, says his “stats do the talking”.

“You just need to look at his history – his stats do the talking,” said the 25-year-old.

“We finished first in the Championship, 10th (in the Premier League) without spending a lot of money, and more points this time without spending money.”

United took just three points from their first 10 games, but Benitez didn’t panic.

Lascelles said: “He’s just so calm – other managers can lose their heads.

“Earlier in the season, when we only had two points, he just stayed calm.

“It’s important, as players, we had someone like that. He dug us out of a bad situation. He’s a perfectionist, even in training everything has to be right.”

Winger Matt Ritchie is confident that Benitez will stay at the club, though Lascelles is unsure.

“We don’t have a clue whether he’s staying or going,” said the defender. “It’s not down to us, but hopefully he stays.”

Jonjo Shelvey, Ayoze Perez, Fabian Schar and Salomon Rondon were on target against relegated Fulham as Newcastle, for the fourth season running, won their final game of the season under Benitez.

“We knew it would be tough – they’ve picked up form recently – but we put in a professional display and got the result,” said Lascelles.

“We could have got complacent, and just been happy finishing the season, but it shows we have a lot of hunger.”