RAFAEL BENITEZ claims it will be “easier” to resolve his future now that Newcastle United have all-but-guaranteed their Premier League survival.

Ayoze Perez’s 32nd-minute header secured a 1-0 win at Leicester City and took the Magpies to the 38-point mark, ten points clear of the relegation places.

Cardiff City, who currently occupy 18th position, have two games in hand, but it is now all-but-impossible to see Newcastle dropping into the bottom three.

Benitez, whose current contract is due to expire in the summer, has always maintained he will hold final discussions about his future once Newcastle’s fate is secure, and while his representatives have held an initial series of talks with Magpies chief executive Lee Charnley, a more detailed series of negotiations should now take place.

“I don't want to talk too much, but we have been talking about the future behind closed doors, or behind the scenes, however, you say it,” said Benitez.

“But we didn't want to talk outside because I wanted to keep the players and everyone else focused on the games.

“Now that we are closer, it will be easier, but still it is the same situation. We have to be sure we do the right things, that's it.”

Benitez continues to seek assurances about Mike Ashley’s future plans, and while a number of specific issues have already been addressed, some remain unresolved.

Newcastle’s transfer policy remains a major bone of contention, and while Benitez will not be demanding some of the figures that have been floated in recent weeks, he wants guarantees that he will be able to compete with what he regards as the ‘middle-ranking’ clubs in the Premier League.

He will also demand a firm assurance about the future development of Newcastle’s training-ground infrastructure and the club’s academy before putting pen to paper on any deal.

Ultimately, though, transfer talks will make-or-break his discussions with Charnley and Ashley, with Salomon Rondon’s future likely to be central to his final decision. Benitez is adamant that he wants to sign the striker permanently, even though he will turn 30 in September.

“It’s just to go to the transfer window and sign the players that you need at the right time,” said Benitez, when asked what the ‘right things’ were. “Sometimes, you have the players and you cannot get players because a team can pay more money than you.

“But obviously everyone says the same - that you have to go early, you have to choose your targets that you need. It's not that you need to sign the best player in the world and then maybe you sign ten players around that they cannot play with him. You have to try to find the players that you need, and do it quickly.

“Then you have a city, a massive club with all the potential to grow and do things better, and try to compete with anyone in the Premier League.

“Obviously the top six are a little bit far away now, but still you can compete in the other range if you do a little bit better.”

Last night’s performance showed what Newcastle are capable of, with the Magpies outperforming a Leicester side that had won their four previous matches under new boss Brendan Rodgers.

Benitez’s side defended superbly throughout, and carried a considerable attacking threat with Perez linking effectively with both Rondon and Miguel Almiron.

“I think we have had a lot of games away that we were close to getting three points in the last games - Wolves was one of them, and Bournemouth we did well, too,” said Benitez.

“But we were not lucky enough to have a clean sheet when we were doing well. So today the team was very disciplined, very organised and working hard. We were very committed and in the end that made the difference against a good team with good players.

“We were working in a way that we were playing the counter-attack where it was quite dangerous and quite effective.”

Benitez stopped short of saying that last night’s result had guaranteed Newcastle’s survival, although mathematical certainty will move another step closern if Cardiff fail to win at Burnley this afternoon.

“Are we safe? Not yet,” he said. “I think that we are closer, but we have to wait and see what happens in the next games, but at least we are very, very close now.

“We have to be careful. We thought 38 points would be the mark that you could be safe, but Cardiff won some games, so we will see. Obviously, we are closer, and we are confident that it could perhaps be enough.”