Newcastle legend Nobby Solano suggests Rafa Benitez will target this remarkable achievement next season

Nolberto Solano - Newcastle United

The former St. James' Park favourite says Benitez will have no intention of getting in a relegation battle if they are promoted.

Nolberto Solano - Newcastle United

Former Newcastle United hero Nolberto Solano has told Chronicle Live that, if his old side can indeed win promotion this season, Rafa Benitez will be aiming to take the club straight into the Premier League's top six.

Benitez, and Newcastle as a whole, is currently reaping the reward of the Champions League-winning manager's decision to stay on Tyneside after the club slipped out of the top flight last season.

With eight games of the Championship season remaining, the Magpies currently sit top of the table, one point clear of Brighton & Hove Albion and with a seven-point cushion over third-placed Huddersfield Town, although the Terriers have a game in hand.

Most of the money will certainly be on Newcastle to win immediate promotion back to the Premier League, as it was at the start of the season.

Former Magpies midfielder Solano, who scored 48 goals in 314 appearances for the Tyneside club across two spells in the late 1990s and 2000s, certainly seems confident.

In fact, he went as far to suggest that if his old side do indeed go up, Benitez will have no intention of merely surviving in the Premier League and will instead target a place in the top six.

Solano told Chronicle Live: “For the players now it will be about the results of the next eight games, not where they will be next year.

“The managing director and Rafa Benitez will have an idea of what players they want next season and they won’t be thinking too much about that at the moment, although they will have to start getting things ready soon. Once they get the results they need they will have some time to sit down and finalise their plans.

“The top six is where Rafa will want to be, to begin with, if Newcastle get promoted, I have no doubt about that. He won’t want to be fighting relegation - it’s just not his style.

“I hope that Mike Ashley is going to be on the same wavelength as Rafa and I hope that the club sees having Rafa here as a major opportunity. This is well and truly the chance to kick on and win something or get back into Europe.”

Newcastle fans have strong memories of playing European football - their last involvement in continental competition was only four years ago, when they reached the quarter-finals of the Europa League.

Returning to challenging for European qualification probably seems a fanciful notion to many, but Benitez has never seemed like a manager limited in his ambitions, and given the excellent work he has done at St. James' Park already (despite being unable to prevent them slipping into the Championship), Solano may be right to suggest his aims for next term will be lofty.

Newcastle United Manager Rafael Benitez

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