Date: 18th May 2019 at 5:30pm
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Rafa Benitez remains locked in talks over a new contract at Newcastle with the Spaniard widely reported to be one of the front runners to become the next Celtic manager.

Benitez has had a tetchy relationship with Newcastle owner Mike Ashley with media conferences often dominated by the lack of transfer funds and the time left on Benitez’s contract.

After two seasons of keeping Newcastle safely in the EPL the Spaniard has been reluctant to extend his contract beyond next month without significant funds to push the side into the top half of the table.

In January Newcastle made Miguel Almiron their record transfer fee- breaking the 14 year record previously held by Michael Owen.

With a track record that covers Liverpool, Chelsea, Real Madrid and Inter Milan, Benitez is used to operating at the highest level of the game but at the age of 59 there may not be another call from a club of that calibre.

The Benitez family has remained in Merseyside over the last decade which offers Celtic some hope that he could be enticed to Glasgow if he is given sufficient funds to make an impact in Europe.

After luring Brendan Rodgers north of the border three years ago a move to Celtic can’t be discounted with Chronicle Live, the biggest publisher in Newcastle, keeping a close eye on contract talks:

Rafa Benitez is now understood to be back at his home in the Wirral after contract discussions with Mike Ashley and Lee Charnley – but talks remain ongoing between the two parties.

The Toon tycoon’s helicopter is on standby over the weekend if any further face to face talks are required.

Ashley and Charnley held face to face meetings in London with Benitez to discuss the level of their ambition but the ex-Liverpool boss returned to his home yesterday and contact since then has been over the phone.

Both parties are carefully reading through a contract in place to extend Benitez’s deal.

As reported by Chronicle Live yesterday the two parties are yet to reach an agreement but by the same token neither Ashley or Benitez have stormed out of talks over any major disagreement.

Celtic won’t make any comment on their new manager until after next Saturday’s Scottish Cup Final against Hearts.