The Spaniard remains a popular figure on Tyneside following his tenure at St. James’ Park, but is currently in charge of Premier League rivals Everton.
For their part, the Magpies are still yet to formally appoint a replacement for the recently-ousted Steve Bruce, although it was announced earlier in the week that they have reached an agreement in principle with ex-Bournemouth chief Eddie Howe.
But Merson has questioned the process that has led them to the 43-year-old, and has instead argued that the club’s new Saudi owners should have used some of their immense wealth to lure Benitez back to the north east.
Speaking on Sky Sports’ Soccer Saturday ahead of the Toon Army’s trip to Brighton this evening, he said: “I don’t know if they’ve got a clue at Newcastle – I honestly don’t.
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"I think they’ve come in with all this money, they’re going to spend, spend, spend. They haven’t got a manager!
"They’re going to Brighton today. It’s a hard game, but it’s a game they could get something out of if they work hard and they get a bit of luck here and there, but they’ve got no manager again.
“Last week they played against Chelsea. It was dreadful. I know they’re playing against the Champions League winners, but it was a free swing. Go out and play! If they get beat 5-0, they haven’t got a manager, who cares?
"If Steve Bruce would’ve played that way, it would have been mayhem.
"It was no different, and whoever comes in, it will be no different.
"They’ve got loads of money to spend – go and pay £30 million for Benitez. Go and buy a manager that will 100% keep the fans happy.
"If you get Benitez in, you’ve won already.”
Benitez left Newcastle in June 2019, and has since spent time with Dalian Professional in China before returning to England with Everton earlier in the year.
During his time with the Magpies, he won 62 of his 146 games in charge.