(Reuters) - Newcastle United should look to champions Leicester City as they try to get back into the Premier League under manager Rafael Benitez, Newcastle midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum has said.
Leicester finished 10 points ahead of second-placed Arsenal in the league this season, after finishing 14th in the table in the 2014/15 campaign. Newcastle finished 18th this season and dropped into the Championship.
“You see that Leicester are champions of the league, and who expected that at the beginning ... ” Wijnaldum said. “I think this is a club that has to play for the first six, seven or eight places.”
Benitez, who took over from Steve McClaren in March on a three-year deal, led the club to three league wins in his 10 games - not enough to keep their top flight status.
“Yes, of course,” Wijnaldum told British media when he was asked if Benitez could lead Newcastle back to the top flight next season. “Everything is possible.”
Benitez has a clause in his contract that allowed him to leave Newcastle if they went down, but he is talking with the club’s owner Mike Ashley about making his stay long-term, according to British media reports.
“He made a big impact on the team and made us perform better,” Wijnaldum said.
Reporting by Ian Rodricks in Bengaluru, editing by Larry King