Newcastle United manager Rafael Benitez has denied demanding £100m to stage a mass overhaul of the club's squad during the summer transfer window ahead of their return to the Premier League. The Toon have secured their return to the top flight at the first time of asking alongside Brighton and Hove Albion and could be crowned champions if they better the Seagulls' result on the final day of the season.
Upon clinching promotion, The Mirror reported that Benitez wanted to sign seven new players during the upcoming window and wants complete control over the club's dealings in the window. In January, the Magpies were the only club from the second tier not to add to their squad leading to criticism of the club's hierarchy from the Spanish boss.
Those failures in January mean Benitez has yet to commit to Newcastle beyond the end of the season and will meet with owner Mike Ashley after the final game of the season at home to Barnsley to seek assurances over his freedom in the summer and beyond. But with regard to his demands for the window, Benitez has played down suggestions he has asked for a giant transfer war chest.
"I have been reading 'Rafa was asking for this figure', or that he will be given 'this much money'… we haven't talked about how much money we want and we haven't had the meeting yet," he told BBC Sport. "We will talk about that in the future and it's not that I am asking for this figure or another one, we have to be realistic and I expect this conversation will be positive and constructive, then after that it will be positive hopefully."
The 57-year-old Champions League winner added: "Newcastle United is a big club where we have to now manage maybe the expectations as some people will be expecting and thinking… 'Oh we have to challenge and maybe be in Europe.'
"Some people though will be happy just avoiding relegation. So we have to make sure the message is the right message, that the fans understand that the best way to go as high as you can in the table is to stay calm, to support the team and keep the professionals doing their job."
Uncertainty over his future has not stopped Benitez from planning for the long-term at Newcastle, an indication that he is ready to stay on at St James' Park. Yet the ex-Real Madrid and Liverpool coach insists those discussions with Ashley are key.
"It means I will be working very hard and I want to see the owner and hopefully everything will be fine," Benitez added. We are already working on pre-season and everything. That is the way I do things, it doesn't matter if you stay or if you go, you have to keep working. But at the moment I am thinking like I will be here 10 years."