Rafa Benitez 'prioritises' Newcastle United talks amid speculation over his future

Rafa Benitez.
Rafa Benitez.

Rafa Benitez is "prioritising" contract talks with Newcastle United after being linked with a job in China.

Guangzhou Evergrande are reportedly set to target Benitez if coach Fabio Cannavaro leaves to take over the national team in China.

Benitez's contract expires in the summer and United's manager has put off sit-down talks until the club secures its Premier League status.

Asked about the latest speculation, Benitez said: "I can read what is going on in press. My priority is to keep talking Newcastle and see where we are. I'm not thinking about anything else.

"We have some contact, I see (managing director) Lee Charnley sometimes. It’s too early (to talk). We have to concentrate on the games."

Newcastle are 13th in the Premier League ahead of Monday night's game against Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium.

Benitez has captain Jamaal Lascelles back from injury, while Fabian Schar – who was knocked out playing for Switzerland during the international break – is suspended.

" I can say we have knocks, little things," said Benitez. "(Sean) Lonsgatff is the only one with an injury. Schar has had a test this morning, and he's fine."