Rafa Benitez has talked up the idea of a return to English football.
What is the lay of the land?
During the prolonged takeover saga of 2020, The Independent claimed that Newcastle United’s prospective Saudi Arabian owners wanted to bring the Spaniard back to St. James’ Park and Benitez has since left his post in charge of Dalian Yifang in the Chinese Super League.
Talked up for a return earlier this season as replacement Steve Bruce busted many a ladbrokes promo code and oversaw a thoroughly wretched run of form, noted journalist Guillem Balague moved to claim the 61-year-old wasn’t going to come back, though crucially he stressed that it only definitely wouldn’t happen under this ownership. Indeed, Football Insider recently claimed that those behind the scenes at Newcastle were still hopeful of a takeover over the course of this summer, so perhaps a natural avenue would then open up.
A hugely popular figure amongst the club’s fanbase, Benitez revealed when he left in the summer of 2019 that he’d still be on Tyneside if he felt the owners shared his ambition to build something substantial.
What did he say?
Speaking to Sky Sports Italia (via The Chronicle), Benitez suggested he’d be open to return to either England or Italy, having also enjoyed success with Napoli before leaving for Real Madrid in 2015.
“I like to compete, I like to win; however at the same time I can work with young people because I am a ‘professor’,” Benitez said.
“In Spain, at the moment, it is not possible to think about carrying out a project and trying to win something. In Italy and England, on the other hand, it can be done.
“It is still too early to know what will happen in the future, but it is clear that Italy and England are places where I have been well.”
Where has he been linked?
Back in January, La Stampa (via Football Italia) revealed that Benitez could be an option for Napoli again amid Gennaro Gattuso’s struggles at the time, though he has kept his job for the moment.