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 By PA Sport

Newcastle manager Rafa Benitez 'happy' amid links to Everton vacancy

Newcastle boss Rafael Benitez has distanced himself from speculation linking him with the vacant manager's job at Everton.

The 57-year-old Spaniard, who spent six hugely successful years on Merseyside with Liverpool earlier in his career, was being touted as a replacement for Ronald Koeman even before the axe fell earlier this week.

However, despite his family still living in the north-west, Benitez, who will send the Magpies into Premier League battle at Burnley on Monday evening, insists he is happy with his ongoing mission at St James' Park.

Asked about the speculation, he said: "I read in the press and heard people talking, but I am happy here. I am concentrating on this, I don't like to talk about rumours.

Rafa Benitez has played down links to the vacant Everton job.

"The reality, obviously, is that my family is in Liverpool, but my past was Liverpool [Football Club]. Everton is a great club.

"I'm not saying I'm interested, I'm saying I'm happy here and want to concentrate on Newcastle and try to do my best here.''

Benitez took over at Newcastle with 10 games of the 2015-16 season remaining and although he was unable to prevent them from slipping into the Sky Bet Championship, he steered them back into the big-time at the first attempt and they currently sit in seventh place in the table after an encouraging start to the campaign.

His disquiet over the club's summer transfer dealings is well-known, but owner Mike Ashley's decision to publicly put the club up for sale this month has sparked hope of a new era on Tyneside.

Several potential buyers, one of whom is understood to be Amanda Staveley's PCP Capital Partners, have signed non-disclosure agreements with the club and are currently engaged in the process of examining the books.

However, despite claims that a deal is close, there is no offer yet on the table for Ashley to consider.

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