Jamaal Lascelles says Newcastle United must do everything in their power to keep manager Rafael Benitez at the club.
The Spaniard took over at St James' Park towards the end of 2015-16 and, although he could not stave off relegation, the Magpies bounced back at the first attempt by claiming the Championship title.
This season has seen Newcastle re-establish themselves in the top tier, and a win at home to Chelsea from Sunday's final fixture of the campaign should see them secure a top-half finish.
However, speculation continues to swirl surrounding Benitez's future, with the former Liverpool and Real Madrid boss reportedly seeking assurances that he will be given funds to improve the squad.
Benitez has a year left to run on his existing deal, and captain Lascelles believes keeping the manager on board should be the number one priority for the club.
RAFA BENÍTEZ is hoping his players can end a memorable campaign on a high note when arrive at St. James’ Park on Sunday. May 11, 2018
"I can't emphasise how important it is," he told Sky Sports. "Since he's been here, the club has been on the rise. He's got the club together, the city together, and everything has been positive.
"The players love him, a manager of that level who's been at big clubs and won trophies, you've got to do all you can to hold onto him. Look how he's got us playing.
"People say we wouldn't gel together and we're a Championship side, well if that's the case then the manager has got us all together and we're sat in the middle of the table.
"As players, we've got to cross the white line but we follow instructions from somewhere, and that's the gaffer. The club have got to keep him happy.
"I can't thank Rafa enough for how much I've improved, not only as a player but as a captain. I think I've come on leaps and bounds in that aspect, how to deal with things differently; he pulls me aside and says you can't always be this way, you've got to adapt to different people's personalities - he's worked with Steven Gerrard, Cristiano Ronaldo and John Terry."
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