Report: Rafael Benitez could stay at Newcastle if Mike Ashley goes

Newcastle United's Spanish manager Rafael Benitez shouts instructions to his players from the touchline during the English Premier League football match between Burnley and Newcastle...

The Newcastle United boss is again being linked with a move away.

Newcastle manager Rafa Benitez looks on during the Premier League match between Manchester United and Burnley at Old Trafford on December 26, 2017 in Manchester, England.

According to The Northern Echo, Rafael Benitez would be "reluctant to walk away" from Newcastle United if he thought there was a chance that Mike Ashley could be gone by this summer.

The Newcastle boss was named by The Telegraph as a potential successor for David Moyes if West Ham United part company with the Scot when the season is over.

Benitez endured another frustrating transfer window this past month and was forced to settle for three loan signings - Kenedy, Islam Slimani and Martin Dubravka.

Newcastle United's Spanish manager Rafael Benitez shouts instructions to his players from the touchline during the English Premier League football match between Burnley and Newcastle...

The prospect of Ashley selling Newcastle looks far bleaker now than it did last month after the 53-year-old collapsed the protracted negotiations with Amanda Staveley over a sale.

It remains to be seen how much longer Ashley is in charge of the St James's Park club but The Northern Echo has claimed that the Spanish manager would be far less likely to leave this summer if he believed that a change of ownership was probable.

Newcastle United's Spanish manager Rafael Benitez shouts instructions to his players from the touchline during the English Premier League football match between Chelsea and Newcastle...

No reason to panic for Newcastle....yet

Newcastle fans shouldn't be hugely worried about the West Ham rumour yet.

Benitez joining the Hammers seems to be a story that resurfaces every few months after the former Real Madrid coach snubbed the East Londoners in 2015 for the Santiago Bernabeu.

Back in September, The Telegraph claimed that the Champions League-winning boss would  "express some interest" in replacing then-Irons manager Slaven Bilic if he was sacked and considering West Ham punted for Moyes, it might suggest that Benitez wasn't open to the job.

And time will tell whether there is more substance to the report on this occasion.

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