Guillem Balague's bold, exciting prediction about where Newcastle can finish next season

Benitez Tour 2

Newcastle are being tipped for success... if they stay up.

Guillem Balague believes Newcastle United boss Rafael Benitez can guide them to a top-five finish in the Premier League next season providing they stay up, according to the Chronicle.

Indeed, the Spanish football pundit has high expectations of Benitez in English football.

And Balague told the Chronicle: "I think take away the top two or three teams, then under Benitez Newcastle could be the fourth or fifth best team in the Premier League if he is given the time and control to do what he wants and needs to do.

"There would need to be the right approach from the top but with Benitez on the bench the club could really go places.

"For Newcastle, there are huge possibilities - but of course before he’s got to keep them up."

A top-five finish would really be something different for the Magpies. It's what Alan Pardew achieved at St James' Park yet what followed since that season has been disaster after disaster.

But Newcastle are yet to work under a coach with a reputation like Benitez's.

It's a bold prediction from Balague, of course, but many will look at the example of Leicester City - from rags to riches in footballing terms - as proof a struggling team can turn it around under an experienced European manager.

The key point, however, is whether Benitez keeps Newcastle up. In the Championship, the Spaniard will have it all to do and may well decide second-tier football isn't for him.

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