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Paul Gascoigne has sent a stark message to the Newcastle United board that they must back Rafael Benitez in the transfer window, or risk losing him.

The Spanish manager led the Magpies to a 10th place finish in their return to the Premier League last season but was heavily linked to the West Ham United job before the appointment of Manuel Pellegrini.

He was given limited funds in the January window and it caused behind-the-scenes tension between Benitez and the board. Gascoigne has urged the board not to make the same mistake again.

He said: “If they want to keep Rafa, they need to give him the money to improve the squad. If they don’t he won’t want to stay.”

“In order to compete with the likes of Man City and Man United, or any club for that matter, you need to spend and spend well.”

Newcastle are one of few teams who have failed to spend big in recent years, with Michael Owen’s move from Real Madrid still the record transfer fee spent 13 years ago.

Gascoigne believes Benitez is a key part of the Toon’s future. He said: “I think someone like Rafa, it’s always important for any team to keep a manager like that. You look at his CV. But nowadays you’ve got to spend money, it’s as simple as that.”

“Newcastle did well to finish 10th but could’ve finished higher. Keep hold of Rafa, give him money to spend and they could well do that.”

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