Ki Sung-yueng reveals his view on Rafa Benitez's Newcastle United future – and a 'realistic' aim for next season
Ki Sung-yueng says Newcastle United’s players are hoping Rafa Benitez stays at St James’s Park – just like the club’s fans.
Benitez is still considering a contract offer from owner Mike Ashley following talks last month.
The 59-year-old, out of contract at the end of the month, wanted to know if he would be given the backing to take the club higher up the league next season following last term’s 13th-placed finish.
Ki and his team-mates, like Newcastle supporters, are waiting for news amid continued speculation about the future ownership of the club following an approach from the Bin Zayed Group, who claim they have agreed a £350million takeover.
Asked if manager Benitez could realise United’s potential, the midfielder said: “Yes. Even though I don’t say anything, you all know the situation.
“We don’t know what’s going to happen. It depends on the manager and what he decides. We’ll see what’s going to happen.”
Benitez believes he can take the club to the cusp of the European places – if the club does the “right things” off the field.
Asked about the team’s aims for next season, 30-year-old Ki said: “I think you have to ask the manager!
“I don’t know, but I can see that this club is massive. Every single game you have full stadiums, the fans support behind us. The history of the club is amazing. Hopefully, you have to go forward. That’s the target. As a player, as a club … we should go forward.”
Ki is “realistic” in his view of how high Newcastle can go in the Premier League.
On Benitez’s stated aim of competing for a finish between seventh and 10th, Ki added: “Maybe that’s the next target for everyone.
“We have to also be realistic. I can’t say we have to fight for the Champions League. That’s not realistic. We have to be realistic.
“I think Newcastle, as a club, has potential to go higher in the table. I believe that we will improve next season.”
Former South Korea captain Ki, signed last summer by Benitez after leaving Swansea City as a free agent, is enjoying the first summer off of his senior career following his retirement from international football earlier this year.