THE stand-off between Rafael Benitez and Newcastle United shows no sign of being resolved, despite the Spaniard having entered the final two weeks of his current contract.

Benitez was offered a new deal in the middle of last month, but continues to seek clarity over the size of his transfer budget and the extent to which he will be able to dictate the direction of the club’s transfer policy.

A face-to-face discussion with Mike Ashley and Lee Charnley last month failed to provide the answers Benitez was seeking, and while the trio have remained in contact via telephone and Email in the last few weeks, the situation has not changed.

Benitez would like to remain in charge at St James’ Park, but wants firm commitments about the funds that will be made available to him this summer. In addition, he is also requesting a change to the current recruitment model, which has resulted in lengthy delays in the past as Benitez has waited for a response from Ashley while the pursuit of a target is at a crucial stage.

Ashley’s determination that Newcastle should continue to prioritise the purchase of young players is also causing friction, with Benitez keen to re-sign Salomon Rondon on a permanent basis this summer.

New West Brom boss Slaven Bilic would like to use Rondon as part of a deal for Newcastle striker Dwight Gayle, who spent last season on loan at the Hawthorns. However, Ashley and Charnley are reluctant to sanction a £16.5m deal for Rondon, who will turn 30 in September.

Benitez’s contractual position is further muddied by the ongoing takeover talks, which could see new owners installed on Tyneside before the start of the season.

The Dubai-based Bin Zayed Group continue to claim their attempts at buying Newcastle are progressing well, while Ashley is also understood to be involved in talks with at least two other interested parties.

Benitez has been requesting updates on developments as the identity of any potential new owners could have a major impact on whether or not he signs a new deal to remain in charge.

There is a chance Benitez could stay in his current position beyond June 30 without signing a deal – effectively managing the club on a week-by-week basis – but neither party is believed to want such a scenario to unfold.

Agents have approached Newcastle in recent weeks to put forward potential managerial alternatives to Benitez, but neither Charnley nor Ashley has started working on a Plan B.