Rafa Benitez and Newcastle United 'moving forward' in talks over new deal

"We're getting close."

Those were Rafa Benitez's words when he faced the media ahead of Liverpool's visit to St James's Park tomorrow.

Benitez, out of contract on June 30, was responding to questions about his future at Newcastle United.

The 59-year-old, wanting a strengthened hand in the transfer market, had hinted at his impatience in previous press conferences, having outlined what he wanted from the club a month ago.

However, a smiling Benitez was relaxed when he addressed the issue, yet again, at the club's training ground this afternoon.

“I was talking with (managing director) Lee Charnley this week, and we'll let you know when there is more news," said Benitez. "We'll continue talking."

Rafa Benitez.

Rafa Benitez.

Asked if the talks had been "positive", Benitez said: "Yes."

The journalists at the training ground knew the significance of Benitez's words and demeanour. There had been a change, a shift, in his stance.

Things, at last, are seemingly moving forward.

“We will let you know," said Benitez, when pressed on his situation. "I understand you will ask me, and I will be asked again. At least we have been talking, and we can move forward a little bit.

"We're getting close, but we have time. It is not ideal, I know that. We still have time to find a solution."

Benitez, however, hasn't put pen to paper. He might be closer to a new deal, but supporters won't get carried away just yet.

His future still hinges on sit-down talks with Mike Ashley, and we know the club's owner, unwilling to put any more money into United, has different ideas to Benitez.

But Benitez has suggested that there's enough common ground to persuade him to stay on at Newcastle, and that really is posiitve.