May 14, 2018 / 5:05 AM / 10 days ago

Soccer: Newcastle owner Ashley eager for Benitez to stay

(Reuters) - Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley is keen for manager Rafa Benitez to stay at the Premier League club, with the English businessman promising investment in the squad ahead of the next campaign.

Soccer Football - Premier League - Newcastle United vs Chelsea - St James' Park, Newcastle, Britain - May 13, 2018 Newcastle United manager Rafael Benitez waves to fans after the match REUTERS/Scott Heppell

Former Liverpool, Real Madrid and Inter Milan boss Benitez, who took charge of Newcastle in 2016, helped the club secure a 10th-placed league finish this season, ending the campaign with a thumping 3-0 win over Chelsea on Sunday.

The Spaniard, who has a year left on his contract, has been critical of Newcastle’s poor transfer dealings throughout the season.

"Rafa, as always, has my full support, and contrary to some media reports that portray me as a pantomime villain, I will continue to ensure that every penny generated by the club is available to him," Ashley said on Newcastle's website www.nufc.co.uk.

“I hope very much that Rafa will remain at Newcastle United.”

Ashley previously promised investment at the end of the 2016-17 campaign after Newcastle won promotion from the Championship but the funds did not materialise, leading Benitez to deal with a thin squad throughout the season.

Reporting by Aditi Prakash in Bengaluru

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