By Will Butcher

Newcastle have held preliminary discussions over new contracts for midfield duo Yoann Gouffran and Vurnon Anita, according to a report.

The Shields Gazette claim the north-east giants have made the first move to tie down attacking midfielder Gouffran and central midfielder-turned-right-back Anita.

Manager Rafael Benitez lauded both players as they continue to play an integral part in the Toon’s promotion hunt, as well as highlighting their Premier League experience which could prove crucial.

Speaking to the Shields Gazette, Benitez revealed he has had spoken with managing director Lee Charnley over renewing their contracts as less than six months remain on their current deals.

“I had a conversation with Lee Charnley on Thursday, and we were talking about that,” Benitez revealed. ““We are pleased with them, and it’s just a question of to see if we can progress.

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“I think both of them have done really well for us now, but also they have Premier League experience so they are kind of players we need.”

Frenchman Gouffran has been used as a left winger this season, with Matt Ritchie occupying the right wing and Benitez possessing an abundance of options to spearhead his attack.

Dwight Gayle, Aleksander Mitrovic and Daryl Murphy are all vying to start for the Toon, while former Ajax star Anita has been transformed from his normal midfield role into a right-back.

Both players remain as integral parts to Benitez’s desire to return to the Premier League at the first attempt, after being relegated with the Magpies last summer.

Football Insider verdict:

As Benitez states, with Premier League experience, keeping the duo on Tyneside is crucial to Newcastle’s hopes of remaining in the top flight next term, if they hold onto their promotion slot this time round. Gouffran’s versatility in the final third gives Benitez more options than most, as he can play out wide, as a striker or in the number 10 role. Similarly, Holland international Anita can play in central midfield as well as right-back and that could prove crucial if the Toon suffer a spate of injuries next time round. The Tooon need to build on what they already have, rather than allowing some of their stars to leave.

In other Newcastle transfer news, the Toon should rival Sunderland for this 21-year-old striker.

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