RAFAEL BENITEZ will hold further talks with Mike Ashley after an initial round of discussions failed to resolve the uncertainty over the Newcastle United manager’s position.

Benitez, whose current contract at St James’ Park is due to expire at the end of next month, is understood to have met with Ashley and Newcastle managing director, Lee Charnley, in London yesterday.

However, with the talks having failed to reach a definitive conclusion, another meeting is planned in the hope that an agreement can be finalised.

Both parties are keen to strike a deal that will see Benitez remain on Tyneside, although the length of any future contract is believed to be one of the subjects currently being debated.

The key sticking points in the talks are likely to relate to finance, with Benitez keen to secure some cast-iron guarantees about Ashley’s future transfer plans. As well as demanding assurances over the size of the transfer kitty that will be available for the next few transfer windows, Benitez is also seeking clarity over his ability to spend the money as he sees fit and potentially override some of Ashley’s previous red lines about the age of players coming into the club.

In the past, Ashley has been extremely reluctant to sign anyone over the age of 26, and has refused to even consider deals for potential targets approaching their 30s. Benitez accepts the need to prioritise the purchase of emerging youngsters, but wants to be able to supplement those signings with a handful of older, more experienced players.

Salomon Rondon, who proved so effective on loan from West Brom this season, is one such player, with Benitez keen to sign the Venezuelan on a permanent basis this summer. West Brom’s failure to win their play-off semi-final against Aston Villa means the buyout clause in Rondon’s contract has been set at £16.5m, with West Ham United having indicated they are willing to pay the sum if it enables them to prise the striker from Newcastle’s clutches.

When it comes to his requests for infrastructural improvements to the training ground and radical changes to Newcastle’s academy set-up, Benitez has accepted he will have to admit defeat for the time being. Charnley effectively ruled out a major investment into facilities at the training ground last month, claiming he would rather spend the £15m-or-so that might have been earmarked for improvements into the playing squad.

Both Ashley and Charnley are keen to retain Benitez, who guided Newcastle to a 13th-place finish in the Premier League this season after leading the club to tenth position last term.

The Spaniard has the support of the playing squad, with Ayoze Perez, whose own future is extremely uncertain amid strong interest from Italy and Spain, having become the latest player to speak out in support.

“We all know - everybody in the club, the city, the fans - that everybody wants him to stay,” said Perez. “We know how good we can become under Rafa. That’s why everybody's asking him to stay. It's not in our hands, but we'll see what happens during the summer.”

Perez’s late-season form was a major factor in Newcastle’s finishing position, which saw the Magpies pull 11 points clear of the drop zone despite having failed to win any of their opening ten games.

“It's been a great season,” said Perez. “Ups and downs, better moments, bad moments, but, overall, it's been an unbelievable season.

“Thirteen goals for myself and finishing 13th, which is something to be proud of. It was a great final afternoon for ourselves (at Fulham), and now it's time to enjoy.”