Rafa Benitez returns to Newcastle for transfer talks as Mikel Merino heads for exit

Rafa Benitez
Rafa Benitez

Rafa Benitez was back at St James's Park today to meet Newcastle United officials.

Benitez – whose players report back for pre-season training on Monday – was photographed arriving at the stadium.

The club has only signed one player – former loanee Martin Dubravka – so far this summer.

READ MORE: Newcastle linked with cut-price £2.5m move for midfielder

Benitez has been involved in a stand-off with owner Mike Ashley, who has been pushing him to sign a new contract with his deal expiring in 12 month's tine.

United's manager, however, wants to agree a transfer budget before starting contract talks.

Benitez's arrival at St James's Park came as reports in Spain claimed Mikel Merino was set to join Real Sociedad.

The midfielder – who joined Newcastle from Borussia Dortmund last summer – has a release clause in his contract.

And Merino, 22, is expected to sign for the La Liga club, which has reportedly triggered the clause, by the end of the month.

Meanwhile, United have extended the deadline for season-ticket renewals until 7pm on July 3.