What’s the story?
Speaking on the latest edition of NUFC Matters about all things Newcastle with Steve Wraith, one key topic discussed was a potential Tyneside return for the ex-Liverpool and Dalian Professional tactician.
Indeed, the latter club in the Chinese Super League most recently employed Benitez, but the former Newcastle boss stepped down from his role earlier this year and cited family reasons as the principal factor behind his departure.
The financial stability of Chinese football has faced duress in recent months after one leading side ceased operations, whilst salary caps are set to be rolled out in the league.
Consequentially, Rafa’s departure is a symptom of a wider exodus that could be on the cards for Chinese football.
Could Newcastle benefit from this?
“I do think he would love to come back to Newcastle United, but I think he’s waiting for the right job offer.
“Now, if that right job offer comes from elsewhere – he’s always been on West Ham United’s radar, always been on Leicester City’s radar – if those kinds of jobs were to come up before any Mike Ashley-less Newcastle United job, I think he would potentially take them.
“So we’re going to have to play the waiting game on that. I hope he does come back; it’s the exact type of project that Rafa Benitez would thrive in – and it would be really satisfying to see him brought back to the football club to finish off the foundations that he started to build.”
Never say never, but a lot of differentials would have to align before the prospect of a return would be more realistic.
This could emerge as a saga with a solid foundation behind it, but Benitez may prefer fresh surroundings over a Newcastle return.