Jason Cundy shared he was sceptical about whether there were really Chinese clubs interested in hiring Newcastle United manager Rafa Benitez.
The Northern Echo previously reported that Chinese club Dalian Yifang had offered Benitez a remarkable £12m-a-year to move to the Far East, an offer that if accepted would make Benitez the most highly-paid manager in the history of Chinese football.
Cundy revealed when talking to Telegraph journalist Luke Edwards that he wondered if the report was true and suggested it was a possible smokescreen in order to force Mike Ashley to really consider the possibility of losing Benitez.
“Is that true? (Luke Edwards said about the Chinese clubs being keen) when Mike (Parry) and I discussed that earlier briefly we both agreed that perhaps it’s one of those stories that gets put out there, perhaps to smoke out Mike Ashley to really think about this more seriously…or not?” said the pundit on talkSPORT (12:28, Saturday, 22nd June).
It seems like Cundy is a victim of some wishful thinking here, as why wouldn’t there be Chinese clubs throwing down tempting offers for Benitez to consider? The Spanish manager has a ridiculously impressive CV having managed Real Madrid, Liverpool and Chelsea and Chinese football would benefit from a high-profile boss like Benitez arriving. However while it’s probably good news for Benitez that he is so in-demand, it paints a bleak future for his Newcastle future. While the Spanish manager would likely rather manage in the more prestigious Premier League with the Magpies, having other offers to consider means he doesn’t have to be forced to take Newcastle’s offer as he knows other teams are options. With Benitez’s contract set to expire in the coming days and no deal in sight, maybe the manager will start considering the offer he has from China. If he does leave then it will be interesting to see who the Magpies replace him with after the manager guided the club to an impressive 13th-placed finish in the 2018/19 campaign and an even more impressive 10th-placed finish in the 2017/18 season, despite not having a huge transfer budget to work with.