There was a hint of good news for Newcastle fans this afternoon, with the Northern Echo reporting that Rafa Benitez is still hopeful of staying at the club next season.

Reports from Italy earlier in the day claimed that Benitez was set to hold talks with Chelsea about succeeding Maurizio Sarri, who is destined to be unveiled as the new Juventus boss soon.

(Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

But the Northern Echo has refuted those claims, saying “sources close to the Blues” have played down that speculation.

They also add that Benitez’s appearance at the Newcastle training ground yesterday was more to do with pre-season plans than anything more sinister.

(Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

It always seemed unlikely that the Spaniard – who is revered here in the North East – would go back to Stamford Bridge, particularly after the fans were less than enamoured with his style of play during his temporary spell in 2013.

Hope remains for Worried Newcastle fans

It will give Toon fans hope that an agreement can yet be reached with their hero, amid uncertainty regarding ownership and direction of the football club.

Any takeover is unlikely to be completed before Rafa’s contract expires at the end of the month, and fans will hope that talks with any potential new owner will be, or have already been, taking place over keeping the Spaniard.

(Photo by Robbie Jay Barratt – AMA/Getty Images)

But as long as the clock continues ticking down, these rumours will continue, and in all likelihood intensify.

The best outcome for all concerned would be for an agreement to be announced as soon as possible. Failing that, some sort of update would go a long way to calming the nerves of frustrated supporters.

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