Rafa Benitez reveals his approach to contract talks at Newcastle United

Rafa Benitez is "happier", but how much happier?

Friday, 1st February 2019, 5:20 pm
Updated Thursday, 7th February 2019, 4:02 pm
Rafa Benitez, right.

So happy that he'll now sign a new deal at Newcastle United?

That's the question, and Benitez wasn't about to answer it ahead of his team's visit to Wembley.

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Benitez is happier because the club, for once, invested in his squad.

Miguel Almiron arrived on transfer deadline day in a club-record £21million deal from Atlanta United, while Antonio Barreca signed on loan from Monaco until the end of the season.

Just three days earlier, ahead of Tuesday night's home game against Manchester City, Benitez had tellingly refused to guarantee that he would see out his contract, which runs to the end of the season.

Asked about his future ahead of this afternoon's game against Tottenham Hotspur, Benitez said: "I have to concentrate on Tottenham.

"I know you want to ask about everything, but Tottenham is the key.

"I did not say 'if we don’t do that, I will go'. You were asking me all the time will I be here on Thursday, and I said yeah. I will not say 'oh, we have signed two players, so I will sign now'.

"It is not the time to talk about that. It is the time to make sure we improve what we have at the moment. We have more chances now with these two players.

Benitez has previously said he would talk about his future once the January transfer window had closed.

"After the transfer window does not mean two hours after," said United's manager.

"We have time to talk about that. I'm happier than I was one week ago, because we won against Man City and we have two new players. I'm happier than I was in December? Yes, it's the same question.

"I'm thinking about Tottenham, and we will have plenty of time to talk about that."

Asked if he was relaxed about his contractual situation, Benitez said: "Yeah. I'm quite relaxed, because I'm thinking about Tottenham."

Benitez refused to speak about transfers last month after admitting he was "worried" late last year.

"The key is balance," said Benitez. "Balance between before the transfer window and after.

"I'm quiet realistic and pragmatic. My approach during the transfer window was I don’t want to create headlines all the time because we can lose focus, and I was right because we beat Cardiff City and Manchester City.

"People were not talking about this player or that, and we were focused.

"Still we have to stay in the Premier League. I don’t want every press conference talking about that – it makes no sense.

"So if we have a time to sit down and talk about the future ... but it's not now, because we have Tottenham."

Is Benitez concerned about the uncertainty that is surrounding him?

"It's normal in business, in football, in any job that people have to do their job on a daily basis," said the 58-year-old. "And then they can discuss it later."

"Still we have plenty of things to do – that's to stay up, to be sure that we're going in the right direction.

"So, at the moment, we have won against Manchester City, we have signed two players, and now we will try to do what we need to do and then see what happens."