By North-east correspondent Harry Sykes
Rafael Benitez has claimed Newcastle will not sell their star players this summer unless he wants them to.
Benitez delivered the statement of intent on Wednesday evening after signing an updated three-year contract to manage the Magpies next season.
Newcastle have been tipped to sell Moussa Sissoko, Georginio Wijnaldum, Daryl Janmaat and Andros Townsend this summer following their relegation to the Championship.
The Daily Telegraph claims Newcastle expect to net around £40million for the quartet, who were all first-team regulars in the season that ended with demotion to the second tier.
It is said that Benitez will be allowed to reinvest the money from player sales as part of the new agreement he has drawn up with the club.
But the Spaniard claims he has the final say on whether the club will offload any of their stars.
“I don’t need to sell any I players I don’t want to sell,” said Benitez at a press conference on Wednesday, as quoted by the Chronicle’s Newcastle editor Mark Douglas.
Big statement from Benitez on keeping best players. ‘I don’t need to sell any players I don’t want to sell’
— Mark Douglas (@MsiDouglas) May 25, 2016
Benitez arrived in Tyneside on Wednesday to sign an updated contract and confirm that he is staying on as manager to lead the team in the Championship.
The fresh agreement is said to include written assurances that Benitez will have full control over recruitment and the club’s scouting network as well as a clear transfer budget both this summer and in the January window.
Benitez has been promised a large transfer kitty in order to rebuild the side this summer and has been drawing up a list of targets over the last week.
The Spaniard signed a three-year Magpies contract in March but revealed there is a break clause in the deal that allows him to quit if the club are not in the Premier League.
However, Benitez has held extensive talks with Newcastle chiefs in recent weeks about staying on after previously accepting he would leave if the club went down.
Benitez steered the north-east giants to a six-match unbeaten run at the end of the season but was unable to prevent them dropping out of the top tier.
The fans have made it abundantly clear they want the former Liverpool, Chelsea and Real Madrid manager to stay on at St James’ Park and have urged owner Mike Ashley and managing director Lee Charnley to give Benitez the control he wanted.
The Spaniard met Ashley for the first time last week to outline his demands to stay on at St James’ Park, including being given full control of recruitment, the first time this would have been granted to any maanger since the Sports Direct owner bought the club in 2007.
An announcement is imminent that Benitez will prepare the club for a 46-match campaign in England’s second tier.
In other Newcastle news, Barcelona are keen to sign one of the club’s leading players.