Rafa Benitez wants Newcastle to become established top 10 team in Premier League

Rafael Benitez wants Newcastle to become recognised as a top 10 club

Rafael Benitez believes Newcastle have the potential to establish themselves in the top half of the Premier League.

Newcastle ensured survival with five games to spare in their first season back in the top flight and are 10th ahead of their final game of the campaign at home to Chelsea, live on Sky Sports.

Benitez says Newcastle have had a “great” season and wants them to build on what they have achieved.

“I think it is clear that after staying up you have the potential to fight to be in the top ten,” Benitez said.

“When you talk about the top 10 people say: ‘You are already in the top 10’. I don’t know how we will finish but that is not the case. We are very close but there are several teams within a few points.

Tottenham 1-0 Newcastle

“When I say top 10 I mean with a guarantee that you will be there and you can challenge for something more important. That for me is the potential for this club.”

Newcastle have lost their last four games, including a 1-0 defeat at Tottenham on Wednesday, but they are in the best position of the three promoted clubs.

“It has been a great season,” he added. “At the beginning the target was to stay up, I can see a lot of managers saying great season because they are safe. We did it five games ago.

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Benitez, whose contract has just over a year to run, offered no update on his future at St James’ Park but said he was already planning for the new campaign.

“We have pre-season organised, we will go away to Ireland and then be ready. I will have more talks with the club. My job is to be sure that the players are focused for Chelsea, then my people have to talk with [managing director] Lee Charnley to try and progress.

“We have to be quite busy in the transfer market. We need more experience, we need to add some quality to the good players we have already.”