Saturday, March 23, 2019

Reported Leicester target Benitez ´really focused´ on Newcastle

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 25 Feb 2019

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Rafael Benitez refused to discuss his future with Newcastle United despite continued links with the now vacant Leicester City job.

Popular Magpies boss Benitez is out of contract at the end of the season, yet he told Marca last week that he would be keen to stay on Tyneside if controversial owner Mike Ashley was “on the same page” in terms of ambition.

The Spaniard is rumoured to be of interest to Leicester, meanwhile, after reportedly making a shortlist as the Foxes hunt for a new manager following the sacking Claude Puel on Sunday.

But ahead of Newcastle’s meeting with Burnley, Benitez was typically guarded and offered little on a potential move.

“Short [list]? I think it’s quite long now,” Benitez joked at a pre-match news conference, adding: “I think you know my answer. I’m really focused on the next game.

“I know we have to stay up and I think we have to just stay focused on that. I understand the issues around my contract, so this is something you have to ask about.

“But at the same time, you have to understand that my main target is to get three points against Burnley. I think [the fans] will be happy if we get three points against Burnley.”

Brendan Rodgers, another man linked with Leicester, has similarly insisted his focus is on matters with Celtic.

Against Burnley, Newcastle will be looking for back-to-back victories after Miguel Almiron inspired a 2-0 defeat of Huddersfield Town on Saturday.

Benitez was pleased to see Almiron make an immediate impact, yet says the winger’s swift introduction to the starting XI had little to do with his club-record price tag.

“Almiron did not have to play because we paid more or less for him,” he said. “It’s because we knew what he would bring and he is focused on doing that.

“I am not surprised [by his performance] because I knew how good he was, but you are never sure in the Premier League.”

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