Monday 24 September 2018

Rafael Benitez coy over Arsenal link

The Spaniard was linked with the Gunners earlier this season.

Newcastle United v Arsenal – Premier League – St James’ Park
Newcastle United v Arsenal – Premier League – St James’ Park

By Damian Spellman, Press Association Sport

Newcastle boss Rafael Benitez has side-stepped speculation he could be in the running to replace Arsene Wenger at Arsenal.

The 58-year-old Spaniard was linked with the Gunners earlier in the season and is being quoted by some bookmakers as a 20/1 outsider to take over at the Emirates Stadium.

The Magpies are desperate to extend his current deal at St James’ Park, which has a year to run, after seeing him all but mathematically secure the club’s top-flight status with a sequence of four successive victories, although he was remaining coy at his pre-match press conference on Friday afternoon.

Benitez said: “As I have said before, this is a massive club. My position now is the same: we have games to play, I want to be sure that we concentrate on that, and that’s it.

“What I want is to be sure that we have a good team to play against Everton on Monday and that’s it. It’s not the time to talk about that.”

Asked about fans’ concerns that he could be prised away, Benitez insisted all he was concentrating on was the pursuit of another three points.

He said: “They have to enjoy the moment if we can beat Everton – and we will try to do it – and that’s it. Still I have one year left of my contract and I will try to do my best until the last day.”

In the meantime, Benitez will wait to hear what Newcastle’s plans are for the next phase of his mission on Tyneside with owner Mike Ashley still at the helm, but still open to offers for the club.

He said: “The situation is very clear: when I decided to come here, I could see the potential of this massive club and I could see the passion of the fans.

“After two successful years here, I can feel this passion and I know the ambition of the fans. My position now is to know what are the ideas of the club and if we share the same ambitions, that’s it.”

Press Association

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