Rafa Benitez delivers intriguing Newcastle United takeover message
Rafa Benitez has again spoken about the potential of Newcastle United – after distancing himself from the Derby County job.
Benitez is among the bookmakers’ favourites to succeed Phillip Cocu at the Championship club.
However, the former United manager, now in charge of Dalian Professional in China, said he was not interested in the Derby job.
"It is a big club, and I have a lot of respect for them, but, at the moment, I’m focused on trying to pass my quarantine here, spend a little time in England and prepare the next season,” said the 60-year-old.
"You never know, because football and life is changing so much, but at the moment, no."
Benitez left Newcastle last year after failing to agree a new deal amid a takeover bid from the Bin Zayed Group, who are now set to take over Derby.
And Benitez – who guided United to the Championship title in his first full season on Tyneside – has left the door open to a return to St James’s Park in the future.
"When I left Newcastle I was waiting until the last minute for a takeover, but obviously it didn't happen," Benitez said on BBC Radio 5 Live.
"I have a very clear idea that in the situation it was impossible to stay, even if I was really pleased and really happy there.
"If you remember when I went to Newcastle, we were fighting until the end – and we were relegated. In the last game we played against Tottenham, I think it was maybe one of the best games in the history of Newcastle. We beat them 5-1 with 10 men.
"The fans this day were amazing, and I decided to stay this day because of them. So, with all of these things in your head, if I decided to stay when we had no money, imagine with a takeover.
"At the moment, I have a lot of respect because I have a job, and I’m very grateful to Dalian and Wanda, but the Premier League is a target for me."
Steve Bruce succeeded Benitez at Newcastle.