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Benitez staying at Newcastle would be club's best signing - Shelvey

Credit: PA

Newcastle midfielder Jonjo Shelvey has claimed keeping manager Rafael Benitez would be the club's most important signing this summer.

The 58-year-old Spaniard is currently in talks to extend his existing contract, which has a year left to run, with players and fans alike desperate for him to stay after masterminding a successful first season back in the Premier League.

Shelvey told Sky Sports News: "Hopefully the manager will stay and we'll keep building. I think that's probably the most important signing of the summer, to make Rafa stay.

"When I first came to the club, there wasn't really a link between the fans and the players, and he's just turned the whole city around. There's just such a buzz in Newcastle.

"Everywhere you go, the fans are always talking to you. He's just turned the whole place around."

Benitez arrived at St James' Park in March 2016 with 10 games of the campaign remaining, but was unable to halt a slide into the Sky Bet Championship.

However, he guided the club back into the big time as champions at the first attempt and heads into the penultimate fixture of this season at Tottenham on Wednesday evening knowing a top-10 finish is within their grasp.

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Newcastle boss Benitez ignoring takeover speculation

Credit: PA

Rafael Benitez has insisted he is simply getting on with his job as speculation mounts over a takeover at Newcastle.

News that PCP Capital Partners, headed by Amanda Staveley, had tabled a formal bid for the club sparked an excited frenzy on Tyneside earlier in the week, although Benitez is remaining philosophical as he awaits developments.

Speaking ahead of Saturday's Premier League clash with Watford at St James' Park, he said: "For me, I have to prepare the team to make sure we're ready. But in terms of news, whether it has been done or rejected it doesn't affect us and we're not talking about it.

"The players aren't talking about it. I was talking to three players today, but we were talking about last night's Europa League. We don't talk about that (the takeover), we concentrate on the things we can affect with the performance of the team. We can't change anything."

Fans desperate to see current owner Mike Ashley relinquish control of the club after more than a decade are hoping he is granted his wish by completing a sale before Christmas, although that is looking increasingly unlikely with PCP's initial offer having come nowhere near to meeting his requirements.

They are keeping their fingers crossed that a new regime would invest significantly in the January transfer window, although Benitez has issued a warning that spending could be limited whoever occupies the St James' hot-seat.

He said: "It still doesn't change too much, so you have to look for good players if they're available - and in January, that's difficult. The last thing you ask about is the price.

"If we have a change in ownership, we don't know if we will have money or not because the Financial Fair Play rules - they don't allow you to spend too much money.

"We're just looking for good players, better players than we already have or to fix positions we need to fix."

Newcastle could face Swansea trip without Benitez

Newcastle boss Benitez had surgery during the international break. Credit: PA

Newcastle boss Rafael Benitez will not hold his usual pre-match press conference on Friday after undergoing surgery during the international break.

Benitez went into hospital for a procedure to address an infection resulting from a hernia operation he had two years ago.

As a result, the 57-year-old Spaniard has been absent from the training pitch this week and fitness coach Francisco de Miguel Moreno will take over his media duties ahead of Sunday's Premier League game against Swansea.

It remains to be seen whether Benitez will be able to make the trip to south Wales, although he is keen to take his place in the dugout as the Magpies aim to build on their first win of the season against West Ham before the international break.

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Rafael Benitez close to signing Newcastle contract

Rafael Benitez is believed to be close to agreeing a deal to remain as Newcastle manager.

Benitez is ready to manage Newcastle in the Championship. Credit: PA

Discussions which began after the club's relegation from the Premier League on May 11 are believed to have proved fruitful.

Hopes are high around St James' Park that a formal agreement with the 56-year-old has been reached.

Some supporters had grown anxious at the delay confirming Benitez's continued presence or otherwise. Sources close to the talks insisted there was nothing sinister in the protracted nature of the negotiations, which were always expected to last weeks rather than days.

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