Benitez was once again giving nothing away about the ongoing talks over his future on Tyneside as he prepares to enter the final 12 months of his existing contract, although he did reveal that a pre-season which will include a trip to Ireland is already planned.
"I have a contract with Newcastle, I'm talking to them about my renewal", he said.
"On many occasions throughout the season, they have been described as a Championship side, which I personally consider to be derogatory".
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Lascelles, speaking in an interview with Premier League Productions ahead of the visit from Chelsea, has impressed at the heart of the Newcastle defence and his performances have put him on the verge of an England call-up. 'From the start Newcastle outplayed us I many aspects.
The Newcastle owner went on to thank the fans for "their unrivalled support of Rafa and the team throughout the season", but it's doubtful that many of them feel similarly grateful to him.
After beating Chelsea 3-0 on the final day of the 2017-18 Premier League season, Benitez was pressed on his future, with major managerial jobs - including Arsenal - available this summer.
"You need competition and enough levels within the squad, to make sure you can approach any game thinking you can win".
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And with discussions ongoing with Benitez and United hierarchy about his demands for next season, the former Liverpool boss stated he is unsure "how close we are".
"We still have to do a lot of things, today is a day we must enjoy, but we know that we have plenty of room for improvement".
"The transfer window is now very expensive and you also have to invest in the academy and the training facilities. We just try to do the right things at the right time".
He said: "I think this week, maybe there will be another conversation and we will see where we are for the next week".
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