Stunning post-Newcastle United takeover Rafa Benitez claim
Rafa Benitez wants to return to Newcastle United – and tackle “unfinished business”.
That’s the view of Spanish football expert Guillem Balague after Benitez all but ruled himself out of the running to take over at Championship club Derby County.
Benitez left United last year after failing to agree a new contract with owner Mike Ashley – and he joined Chinese club Dalian Professional.
The 60-year-old’s relationship with Ashley had broken down, and the only hope of him staying that summer seemingly lay with a takeover.
That didn’t happen, though the club could yet be taken over by a Saudi Arabia-backed consortium led by financier Amanda Staveley. Ashley is taking legal in an attempt to resurrect a proposed £300million deal.
Balague believes Benitez would return to the Premier League club – if it is taken over.
Speaking on his YouTube channel, Balague said: “I would say he would like to come to the Premier League. He’s doing a good job in China, no doubt about that. But he cannot compete – as he cannot get the best Chinese players.
“He would love to come to the Premier League. My answer would be ‘yes’ (to a return to Newcastle) if the takeover takes place – and if it’s the same people taking over the club and (they) still want him.
"He would say ‘yes’ to the possibility of going back to Newcastle – as there’s still unfinished business there.”
Benitez last week said the Premier League was a “target” for him in the future.
"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,” said Benitez.
Steve Bruce – who succeeded Benitez at the club 16 months ago – was asked about his recent comments about a possible return to English football last week.
"It doesn't bother me a jot,” said United's head coach. “Rafa’s entitled to talk, whatever he wants to do. Look, he left 18 months ago for his own personal reasons.
"As far as I'm concerned, I can't get involved with that. It doesn't bother me one little bit.”