Rafa Benitez set to meet Mike Ashley for Newcastle showdown talks today

RAFA BENITEZ is set for showdown talks over his Newcastle future today.

The Toon boss is out of contract next month but will meet with owner Mike Ashley to discuss a new deal.

A lack of control over transfers has been a major factor in Benitez, 59, refusing to commit.

The Toon Army are desperate for the former Liverpool manager to sign a new deal after leading them to a 13th-placed finish on a limited budget this season.

Benitez wants to stay but his future will depend on what assurances billionaire Ashley, 54, gives him.

According to the Times, the pair will meet today in London for a fresh round of talks.

Ashley congratulated Benitez and his squad in the dressing room after the 4-0 romp at Fulham on the final day of the season – where he also CANCELLED a planned trip to Las Vegas.


Benitez claimed negotiations over a new deal had been "positive" in March but warned Ashley – who remains keen to sell the club – to show more ambition.

He said: "We have a meeting coming soon hopefully and then we will see where we are.

"Someone will ask me the question, do I want to stay? It’s very easy. I can see the potential of this massive club and hopefully we can do things in a way that will be good for everyone to move forward, maybe together.

"At the moment, it’s keep talking and see what happens."

The sooner Benitez's future is sorted out, the sooner Newcastle can start planning their squad for next season.

Jonjo Shelvey is still waiting to be told if he is wanted on Tyneside amid interest from West Ham.

The midfielder, 27, remains in the dark about Newcastle's plans – and nothing will be decided until Benitez's future is resolved.

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