Now that Newcastle United are on the verge of mathematically securing their Premier League safety, the Magpies will have to quickly turn their attentions to the future.
Thursday’s 0-0 draw between Southampton and Leicester City means that the Saints, who occupy the highest of the relegation spots, can reach a maximum of 41 points this season, the same number Newcastle currently have up in 10th.
Barring an unlikely capitulation from Rafael Benitez’s men coupled with four wins for Mark Hughes’ side, the Toon Army can start thinking about next season – with the summer break set to be another roller coaster of emotions as the transfer window opens once again.
However, before the cub can even consider bringing in new recruits, their priority must be securing the future of manager Benitez, as he closes in on the final year of his current deal.
There can be no question he is the most important figure at St James’ Park right now and if owner Mike Ashley wants to continue seeing his club overachieve with an average squad, then snapping up the Spaniard is the only way to go.
It has been claimed by the Times that the Magpies are still engaging in one-way talks with the former Liverpool boss, who will not commit to anything immediately, but that they stunningly are demanding the inclusion of a release clause in the 58-year-old’s new deal.
That is a recipe for disaster.
Newcastle might have been lucky that no one has triggered the reported current £6million clause in his contract but that does not mean there have not been clubs sniffing around.
That sort of money is pocket change to the big boys and putting in such a clause offers them an easy way to get what they want – and leaves Ashley no room for negotiation.
If he continues his success at St James’ Park, a club with deeper pockets will come along sooner rather than later and with that clause the Magpies will be powerless to stop their main man leaving – a thought no Newcastle fan wants to put themselves through.
In other Newcastle United news, the club are set to table a bid for a vastly talented international attacker.