Could Rafa Benitez make a shock return to Chelsea?

Jack Kitson by Jack Kitson / 13 June 2019, 10:44

It’s a case of deja vu for Chelsea fans as the club enters into another summer engulfed in managerial uncertainty.

Last time around Antonio Conte eventually left his position in mid-July, a full two months after lifting the FA Cup.

His successor Maurizio Sarri is widely expected to depart for Juventus on the back of his Europa league success.

It’s now seemingly a question of when, not if, he leaves although the Blues are reportedly set to make a late move to keep the Italian.

Chelsea legend Frank Lampard remains the odds-on favourite in the next Chelsea manager market, and in truth looks like the most likely appointment.

Lampard impressed at Derby in his first season in management, and has been described as the “perfect choice” by his former England teammate Rio Ferdinand.

While there are concerns over his lack of experience, his connection to the club makes him a strong candidate. It’s also worth noting that a certain Pep Guardiola only had one year in management - in the fourth tier with Barcelona B - before overseeing a monumental trophy-drenched four years at the helm of the first team.

Former Juventus head coach Max Allegri also features in the betting as does, inevitably, Jose Mourinho who is a 10/1 shot to return for a third spell.

However, it’s another ex-Chelsea manager that has surprisingly been propelled out of nowhere: Rafa Benitez.

Yes, that’s right. The Newcastle boss, whose future at the Toon remains up in the air, has abruptly been slashed from a 33/1 outsider to a 4/1 (Bet Victor) major contender to become Roman Abramovich's 12th appointment in 16 years.

Benitez was originally an unpopular replacement for the sacked Roberto Di Matteo in November 2012. The Spaniard’s ties with Liverpool meant his interim appointment didn’t go down too well, but come the end of the season he’d led Chelsea to Europa League glory, the semi-finals of both domestic cups, the FIFA Club World Cup final, and third in the Premier League.

From afar a return appears very unlikely, although the Metro reports that Chelsea have “begun talks” with the Magpies gaffer whose contract expires in two weeks time.

Watch. This. Space.

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Paul Cook
Paul Cook
(Wigan Athletic)
1st August
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