The future of Newcastle United manager Rafael Benitez has been plunged back into serious doubt as close contact and prospective new owner Amanda Staveley is on the verge of walking away from negotiations with Mike Ashley, according to a report.

The Sun claim on their website that the British businesswoman, who is said to be a close ally of Benitez and is has a close personal relationship with the Spaniard, is on the brink of exiting takeover discussions with the Sports Direct supremo having slapped a £400million asking price on the club.

It is said that the Newcastle chief will not accept any less than this sum following the club’s comfortable survival in the Premier League, with Benitez seeking exactly what sort of financial backing he will get as he enters the final year of his contract.

Football Insider verdict

After the winter’s farce between Staveley and Ashley it always seemed unlikely that a deal was going to be completed and the fact the latter is raising his asking price only seems to confirm that. Newcastle, while officially a top 10 side, have massively overachieved during the season just gone but Ashley seems to be using that as a way to ramp up what he can milk from the sale. There will be few, if any, investors out there willing to meet his demands and it seems as though Ashley and the Toon Army are stuck with each other – something neither really want. As for Benitez’s future, he has a year left on his current contract and, being a man of respect and dignity, will likely see it out – unless another club comes calling. Uncertainty has always been a common feature on Tyneside and it looks as though this summer will be no different for the St James’ Park faithful.

In other Newcastle United news, fans have been left fuming over one man’s controversial comments.

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