Rafa Benitez has overseen Newcastle’s comfortable survival in their first season back in the Premier League but may quit the club in the summer, according to the Daily Mail.
The Spaniard is the main cause of hope at the north-east club and losing him would be a huge step back after some long overdue steady progress on Tyneside.
The report states that Benitez wants more control over transfer activity at the club and no longer wants Mike Ashley’s right hand man Lee Charnley to sign off on all deals.
That adds up to uncertainty that apparently means the game against the Blues could be Benitez’s final one at the helm.
It has been Benitez’s staggering initial decision to go to Newcastle, then to stick with them in the Championship and then to stay on despite continued underinvestment that has dragged the club back in the right direction after years of tumult on Ashley’s watch.
He is the most important figure at the club; inspiring players to come to the club, improving the current squad and bringing the fans back onside at a time when the playing staff and style are both limited.
Losing Benitez over a disagreement would be a major step back for the Magpies, who are never far away from a crisis at the best of times.