By Russell Edge

13th May, 2018 | 12:30pm

Newcastle handed major boost over keeping Benitez after massive £16m-plus claim


While Newcastle United fans might be heading into the summer in relatively high spirits following an impressive season back in the Premier League, there are always niggling doubts in the back of their minds.

That is thanks to owner Mike Ashley, whose penny pinching and controversial decisions have not gone down well with the Toon Army over the years, and there is always the fear that there is something disastrous lurking around the corner for the Magpies.

As the club look towards pre-season, a lot of that fear centres on the future of manager Rafael Benitez.

The Spaniard is heralded on Tyneside but with a year left on his contract, there are worries he might leave this summer if he does not get the financial backing he expects from Ashley – and there will do doubt be plenty of suitors for his services.

Benitez has confirmed that talks over his future, to be held with club chief Lee Charnley, are imminent, and they cannot come soon enough with West Ham naming him their top target if David Moyes leaves the Hammers’ dugout, as reported by Irons news website Claret and Hugh.

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However, while Newcastle’s Premier League rivals might be circling, it appears as though the Magpies have been handed a huge boost in keeping their manager, with a huge £16million-plus revelation.

Claret and Hugh claim that Benitez has a release clause in his contract, which would cost £6million to activate, and on top of that he would be demanding a wage of around £10million-a-year (£192,000-a-week) to move.

That sort of money is enough to put most clubs off and while the Hammers might be big spenders, the thought of splashing out £16million in his first year, and more if he stays beyond a season, may well be too much for the West Ham board.

Benitez may well demand the same wage at Newcastle but at least he has proven himself on Tyneside, and has started to build the foundations for an exciting project, making him worth every penny.

In other Newcastle United news, one man has just 90 minutes to save himself with a guaranteed start against Chelsea.

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