Rafael Benitez
Benitez is hopeful of Newcastle embarking on a spending spree this summer Getty Images

Hopes that Newcastle United's return to the Premier League will be more than just a one-season affair were handed a substantial boost when owner Mike Ashley came out in support of manager Rafael Benitez, who has agreed a new deal at St James' Park. How long the harmonious relationship between bankroller and coach can continue remains to be seen, but the short-term indications are good.

The Toon's return to the top-flight was not a surprise, yet the way they spluttered their way to the title in the final minute of the season with a squad seemingly more than capable of competing in the Premier League was a concern.

Benitez must freshen up his options and strengthen in a number of key positions. If not, the Magpies could underwhelm once again.

Business so far

Ashley delivered what might be the most important moment of Newcastle's summer when he pledged to support Benitez in the transfer window and give him "every last penny" earned from promotion.

That amounts to around £170m ($217m), but, after a January window where no signings were made, the Spaniard won't be holding his breath in anticipation of all of those funds being made available.

The promised recruitment drive has yielded Newcastle's first signing for 12 months after Christian Atsu's loan deal from Chelsea was made permanent. Five players have left the North East, including Vurnon Anita and Sammy Ameobi. Florian Thauvin's nightmare spell is also over after he returned to Marseille on a full-time basis.

Christian Atsu
Atsu became Newcastle's first summer signing after making his loan deal permanent Getty

What they need

With just 15 goals in 64 Premier League appearances, it would be folly for Newcastle to rely on Dwight Gayle - who was only outscored by Chris Wood last season - to fire them to comfortable survival. The club have a long history of being spearheaded by potent number nines and they require another to ensure their first season back in the top-flight is a tranquil one.

In defence, Benitez has plenty of options at his disposal but there is genuine physicality missing. Furthermore, Ciaran Clark, Grant Hanley, Paul Dummett and DeAndre Yedlin's experiences of the Premier League are not altogether positive, and some fresh blood would be very welcome. Though Atsu does represent a genuine wide option, there remains a lack of width in the Newcastle squad.

Who could join

If you needed any reminder of Newcastle's status as a big draw in English football, the transfer rumour mill should confirm it. The club have been linked with a host of players, with Pepe Reina the next cab off the rank as he ponders whether to return to England after nine years with Liverpool.

Tammy Abraham
Abraham netted 26 goals on loan at Bristol City last season Reuters

Elsewhere, Tammy Abraham, who excelled in scoring 26 goals for Bristol City last term, is very likely to become the second addition made this summer when he completes a season-long loan move from Chelsea. Arsenal full-back Kieran Gibbs is also a possible target, but the club's asking price is a major hurdle.

Celtic and Scotland's Leigh Griffiths - scorer of two free-kicks against England - has been mentioned as a possible target, as has Ruben Semedo, the Sporting Lisbon centre-back. Fabian Delph and Florian Lejeune complete the smorgasbord of players linked with a move to Newcastle.

Who could leave

Striker Aleksandar Mitrovic was third in the pecking order last term and is expected to leave, with Fenerbahce among the clubs showing an interest. Meanwhile, with four goalkeepers competing to be number one next season, at least one of Freddie Woodman, Rob Elliot, Karl Darlow and Matz Sels will surely be sold.

Freddie Woodman
Woodman saved a penalty in the Under-20 World Cup final - but his Newcastle future is uncertain Getty Images

Having failed to make an impression in his second straight season in the Championship, Mo Diame's days at the club are very likely numbered and you also have to wonder whether Yoan Gouffran will be forced to face another season in a division he is ill-equipped for.

What the manager has said

"My feeling is that everybody has seen that the job has been done, and done properly," said Benitez. "Hopefully, it is a good signal for the future. If everybody sees that things are going well you can trust the people in charge and then you can be more supportive. We will have normal meetings, talking about ideas and things that will happen in the future.

"We will try to put things in place that he will realise are a professional approach. We're talking about a project and we're not thinking about something that's not possible. We will only talk about things that we can achieve. You never know."