Rafa Benitez has agreed a three-year deal to stay at recently relegated Newcastle United, the club has confirmed. The former Liverpool, Chelsea and Real Madrid boss is expected to have full control over player recruitment as the club bids to make an instant return to the Premier League.
The Spaniard was appointed by the Magpies in early March with hopes of avoiding the drop following the dismissal of Steve McClaren. At the time the club were a point from safety with ten Premier League games remaining. Benitez signed a three-year deal with the club but insisted on a special break clause allowing him to leave St James' Park in case the club were relegated to the Championship at the end of the campaign.
Benitez failed to escape the drop despite winning three games and drawing another three during his ten in charge. He rounded the season off with a 5-1 win over Tottenham Hotspur, denying Spurs second place in the table.
Both the Newcastle board and the club's fans have urged Benitez to stay with the club and lead them back to the Premier League. Following productive talks with club officials over the last two weeks, he has now decided to continue with Newcastle, despite an expected number of offers from top-flight clubs both in England and around Europe.
In a statement to the club's official website, Benitez said: "I am extremely pleased to be staying at Newcastle United. The love I could feel from the fans was a big influence for me in my decision to stay, as was my relationship with Lee Charnley and all the staff. This is a huge club and I wanted to be part of the great future I can see for Newcastle United."