RAFA BENITEZ has dropped the biggest hint yet that he wants to stay at Newcastle United and has revealed the “ball is in their court” after discussions over a new deal.

It is no secret that the Spaniard’s contract ends this summer when he will be free to leave for nothing and he is sure to figure prominently when jobs come up in England and abroad.

Benitez disputed reports that he is being touted around for clubs in France by claiming that Newcastle is the only one he is speaking to about his future.

He has not sat down with owner Mike Ashley but has, for the first time publicly, described how he is waiting to hear whether his demands are being met.

Those requests are believed to centre on the club’s ambitions under Ashley matching his because he wants to see improvements to the infrastructure, like the training ground, and assurances over a transfer budget.

“The only club I’m talking about my future now is Newcastle United and I’m waiting for an answer. Why? Because we have been in contact and I’m waiting for an answer,” said Benitez.

“Answers. I will not give more details. We were talking, I was talking with (managing director) Lee Charnley, we were talking and now we are waiting.

“They were coming with something we are coming with something, that’s it. The ball is in their court. It was Lee Charnley with my people. I will not talk too much about that. You have the clarification. The ball is in their court.

“I have no idea (what the outcome will be), the ball is there. Over there. I will not give details (on my demands) about the conversation we had. It took place some days ago.”

Newcastle head in to Saturday’s game with Crystal Palace knowing that a victory will take them up to 38 points and that is what Benitez had previously identified as the total required to stay up; he has since increased that to 40.

But it is a sign of how much he wants to see a resolution to his future that he has chosen this week’s pre-match press conference to outline how things have moved forward, after weeks of being probed by the media. That in itself is sure to encourage the fans who want him to stay, because it also indicates how Newcastle are keen to keep him.

He said: "Yes, at the moment it's very clear. The only conversation I have is with Newcastle. It's fine, but still we are talking. We're waiting."

While Benitez waits to hear more from the boardroom at St James’ Park, he will be picking a team that will try to make it six home wins in a row in the Premier League for the first time since 2004.