Claudio Ranieri has given his seal of approval to Rafa Benitez.

The man who performed miracles at champions Leicester City, says that he believes the Newcastle boss ‘can do a very good job next season’.

Claudio Ranieri says he was surprised when Rafa stayed on after his initial 10 match spell but that he thinks the former Real Madrid Manager had complete faith in bringing Newcastle straight back up.

Now NUFC are back where they belong, Ranieri sees the momentum continuing.

The former Foxes boss predicts that Newcastle can realistically aim for a top half of the division finish.

Remarkably, only six points separated 8th place Southampton and 17th finishing Watford in the Premier League season just gone.

Suggesting there is no reason why you can’t aim for that top half finish if you get this right and you put points on the board early on.

Of course there is  very different story if you look above that, with  7th place Everton a massive 15 points ahead of 8th place Saints and 6th position Manchester United a scarcely believable 23 points ahead of 6th.

Describing Newcastle as having ‘fantastic fans’, Claudio Ranieri thinks that with Rafa knowing just how United the fanbase are behind him, is also a significant factor as the Spaniard tries to rebuild a chaotic club.

Claudio Ranieri speaking to Sky Sports:

“I was surprised (Rafa Benitez stayed at Newcastle) but he believed that they would be promoted.

“He now knows that everyone’s behind him and I think that he can do a very good job next season.

“Newcastle United can be between the middle and high positions.

“They do have fantastic fans and I think he (Benitez) can achieve this.”