By North-east correspondent Harry Sykes
Rafael Benitez has revealed there is a “good chance” he will stay on at Newcastle next season.
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.
Benitez has had a U-turn in the last few days after previously accepting he would leave if Newcastle went down and held talks with the club on Thursday about managing them in the Championship.
The 53-year-old has refused to commit to the Magpies at this stage but he is due to speak to owner Mike Ashley in the coming days and a final decision is likely to be made within weeks.
“I want the same things as the fans,” Benitez said on Saturday, as quoted by the Telegraph. “A strong team capable to promote quickly [sic] and to compete at the maximum level.
“If I’m here and discussing it, it’s because there is a chance [I will stay), a good chance. We have to keep talking. I’m happy with everything here, I’m near my family, which is important and I still think this is a huge club with massive potential.
“We need a structure to allow the club to compete. I am happy to discuss all of these things. I am pleased with the first conversation. I’m really flattered by the fans, because it has been amazing and I know it can be even more positive in the future.
“I think that they know. I will not lie, I am considering. I am quite happy with everything here. Can we improve things? Can we change some things? Then it will be easier for me to make a decision. Obviously these conversations [ with Charnley] are with this idea.”
It is said Benitez wants control of scouting, reform of the training ground and medical departments and improvement of the academy.
No agreement has been reached, and no announcement is imminent, but both parties emerged encouraged by the first round of talks.
Benitez is set to take some time after Newcastle’s last game of the season against Spurs on Sunday to think about the situation.
The Spaniard has established an instant rapport with supporters since replacing the unpopular Steve McClaren with 10 matches of the campaign remaining.
Following a few early teething problems, he has overseen a revival in which Newcastle put together a five-match unbeaten run to prompt hope they can maintain their Premier League status.
But Sunderland’s 3-0 win over Everton on Wednesday night has condemned the Magpies to the Premier League second tier next season.
Benitez is said to have had a change of heart about staying after being swayed by the support he has felt from fans and is convinced that, with guarantees over budgets and control, he can eventually take the Magpies back into Europe.