Rafael Benitez: Is He Staying at Newcastle United Despite Premier League Relegation?

Newcastle United manager Rafael Benitez, left.
Newcastle manager Rafael Benitez (left) at St James' Park, Newcastle, May 15, 2016. Benitez may stay on in his job despite the club's relegation. Stu Forster/Getty

Rafael Benitez is reported to be close to continuing as Newcastle United manager, in what would be a remarkable turnaround following the club's relegation from the English Premier League.

The Evening Chronicle, the city's local newspaper, claimed Benitez has held three meetings with Newcastle's managing director Lee Charnley and its owner Mike Ashley.

A deal has not yet been signed but for the Spaniard to be even this close to staying on is faintly remarkable, in light of Newcastle's second drop into the Sky Bet Championship in seven years.

Those meetings are understood to have gone well, although Benitez would like full control over transfers, something Ashley has been reluctant to sanction in the past.

Newcastle went down along with Aston Villa and Norwich City, despite spending nearly £30 million ($43.6 million) in the January transfer window in a desperate bid to save its Premier League status.

However, Benitez was given just nine league games to save the team following the dismissal of Steve McClaren, the previous incumbent.

And that proved insufficient, despite Newcastle winning three of its last six league games under Benitez, including the very last, a thumping 5-1 victory over Tottenham Hotspur that served as a bittersweet valedictory notice on the club's Premier League status.