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Bookies slash odds on Rafa Benitez joining West Ham as Newcastle contract talks drag on

Rafa Benitez (Pic: Stephen Dobson)
Rafa Benitez (Pic: Stephen Dobson)

Bookmakers have slashed the odds on Rafa Benitez succeeding David Moyes at West Ham United.

Moyes yesterday parted company with the Premier League club.

And Benitez, initially, was a 9/1 third-favourite with bookies behind Manuel Pellegrini and Paulo Fonseca.

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However, Newcastle United's manager is now as short as evens after a flurry of overnight reports from London linking West Ham with a move for Benitez, who has one year left on his St James's Park contract.

Former Manchester City Pellegrini, now head coach of Hebei China Fortune, is the club's first choice, though his wages are a stumbling block. The club has also had discussions with Fonseca, who is in charge of Shakhtar Donetsk.

Benitez came close to joining West Ham in 2015 before taking over at Real Madrid.

The 58-year-old forged a strong relationship with West Ham co-owner David Sullivan during talks at the time.

Benitez's future at Newcastle hinges on discussions with the club's hierarchy over a summer transfer budget.

United owner Mike Ashley wants Benitez – who has a year left on his St James's Park contract – to sign a new deal, but he will only commit his longer-term future to the club is he gets the financial backing he needs as well as a number of other assurances.

Talks between Benitez's representatives and Lee Charnley, Newcastle's managing director, are ongoing.

United, promoted last season as champions, finished the season in 10th place after beating Chelsea 3-0 on the final day of the season.