MIKE ASHLEY and Rafa Benitez are satisfied with the progress that has been made on the Newcastle United manager’s contract talks, even if there is no immediate rush to get things tied up on either side.

After last week’s meeting between Ashley and Benitez in London, there has been dialogue since and discussions are ongoing at some level – with managing director Lee Charnley and Benitez’s representatives included too.

But Ashley and Benitez are not concerned about the length of time it is taking to find an agreement, which would lead to the Spaniard committing to a new deal on Tyneside.

It had been hoped something would be in place by the end of this week, but it is understood Ashley is prepared to wait as long as it takes to nail down a deal for the former Liverpool boss.

Benitez is also not particularly concerned and is willing to keep talking before he agrees to an extension, knowing he also has alternative options if things turn sour in the coming days.

The Newcastle manager still wants to stay at St James’ Park and even though he is not in a massive rush to get things tied up he knows the sooner the better so he can work on transfers.

Benitez is still in contact with the recruitment and scouting team, a positive sign about his future, and he is exploring ways of improving the Newcastle squad.

Regardless of whether he stays or goes, Newcastle are set for a busy summer on that front because they look set to lose three midfielders just for starters.

With Jonjo Shelvey interesting West Ham and both Isaac Hayden and Mo Diame, who is out contract, expected to leave, that is an area of the pitch where Newcastle need additions quickly.

It has emerged Newcastle have been offered the chance to sign Joao Mario from Inter Milan, and he would be a direct replacement for one of those. The 26-year-old is rated at around the £18m mark and he spent time on loan at West Ham last season but they have not pursued a permanent switch.

Ashley would still like to sign players younger than that if he is to fork out that sort of transfer sum, although Mario has the potential to increase his price-tag if he shines in England.

The Portuguese is one of a number of midfielders who Newcastle are considering, but Benitez wants fresh faces running through his squad if he is to steer them into the top ten next season.

Newcastle have already decided full-back Antonio Barreca, 24, can return to Monaco after opting not to take an £8m option up. He was an unused substitute three times after leaving Monaco.

And Newcastle would still like to sign Salomon Rondon on a permanent basis after an impressive loan. The problem is there are other clubs now willing to pay the £16.5m release clause at West Brom, and that is a figure Ashley would be reluctant to meet because he will turn 30 next season.

One of Newcastle’s successful signings last summer, Fabian Schar, has described how much he has enjoyed life on Tyneside after leaving Deportivo la Coruna behind.

The £3m Swiss might have raised a few eyebrows when he joined but he won over the supporters and deservedly nailed down his starting spot after an impressive campaign.

Schar said: “I had a quite hard start, like the whole team. I think the whole team struggled a lot the first ten games, but then we started getting points and doing a good job over the whole season.

“I think, for me and the team, the second part was quite good and we can be proud of the end.

“For me, it was also a quite good season when I look now. I enjoyed playing in the Premier League, especially for this club and these amazing fans. I look forward for the next year.”