By Coral Barry

Newcastle have sounded out top target Rafael Benitez about becoming the next Magpies boss, according to reports.

Benitez’s last job was in charge of Spanish giants Real Madrid, which ended in January when he was sacked and  replaced by Zinedine Zidane.

The Guardian and Daily Mail claimed on Tuesday evening that the former Liverpool boss is top of the wishlist of Newcastle after the board decided McClaren’s time at St James’ Park is over.

The current Newcastle boss is said to be resigned to his fate but will remain in charge until a suitable replacement can be found.

The weekend 3-1 home defeat to Bournemouth has left Newcastle second from bottom of the table.

Despite three successive losses and just 24 points, Newcastle are still just two points from safety with ten games left to play.

The Guardian reports that McClaren is well aware contact has been made with Benitez while the Daily Mail believes the former England boss has been left in the dark over the decisions in the board meetings.

Dead man walking: McClaren took training today despite intense speculation

Potential candidates and early contenders Nigel Pearson and Harry Redknapp are thought not be high on Newcastle’s list and attention will only turn to acquiring Brendan Rodgers or David Moyes if Benitez rejects their approach.

It is also suggested that the board is well aware a big character will be needed to deal with Newcastle’s high maintenance squad.

Reports have indicated that the Newcastle players have already moved on from McClaren although the Magpies have strongly denied this.

Newcastle face a trip to high flying league leaders Leicester on Monday.

In other Newcastle news, Chris Sutton has said it would be a mistake to ignore Redknapp as a possible successor to McClaren.