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Sunday 4 December 2016

Rafa plays down link with Spain

Rafa Benitez. Photo: Chris Radburn/PA Wire
Rafa Benitez. Photo: Chris Radburn/PA Wire

Rafael Benitez has brushed off speculation linking him with the Spain job as he plots a long-term future at Newcastle.

The 55-year-old has been tipped as a potential replacement for current national boss Vicente del Bosque when he stands down after Euro 2016 but he says he is looking no further ahead than the fight to maintain the Magpies' top-flight status and his continued presence in his current post.

Asked about the forthcoming vacancy, Benitez, who has a break clause in his contract at St James' Park should the worst happen, said: "I am the Newcastle manager and I want to be the Newcastle manager next year. I am really pleased here.

"Always it is positive when people talk about you. Obviously with Spain, it is one of the (top) teams in the world now, but I am just concentrating and I would like to stay here for a while."

Benitez acknowledged that the link with Spain was flattering, but added: "Del Bosque is my friend - I was his assistant when he was with the first team at Real Madrid, he knows how I work.

"But still, I think I will be here for a while. I have confidence we will stay in the Premier League, so I don't think about the other options."

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