In his one and only season managing in the Championship, Rafa Benitez led Newcastle to the title (2016/17).
The Spaniard is now being linked with a shock return to England’s second-tier after his odds were slashed from 25/1 to 4/1 in the betting to become the next Derby County manager.
However, while Benitez’s Toon Army side were the red-hot favourites for promotion back up to the Premier League following their relegation in 2016, underperforming Derby are currently glued to the foot of the table after mustering one win from their opening 11 games.
It’s interim boss Wayne Rooney who has emerged as the early favourite for a vacancy that John Terry is also being touted for, but Benitez’s sudden presence in the top echelons of the market certainly makes for surprise viewing.
Benitez is currently over 5000km away in China, at the helm of Dalian Professional, a job he’s held since July 2019.
The Champions League winning gaffer has frequently been linked with a return to English football, however while he one day hopes to come back, his previous comments indicate that he is determined to honour his contract at Dalian.
“In the future I would like to come back to the Premier League but there's no chance that I would come back right now,” he said on Monday Night Football last December, when he was being linked with Arsenal, Everton and West Ham.
From Dalian to Derby?
Benitez has a year remaining on his contract although with the season coming to a close in China last week, TeamTalk reports that he has informally put his name in contention to become the next PSG manager (20/1), while he can be backed at 11/2 to replace Steve Bruce at Newcastle.
In their final game Benitez’s Dalian Pro side gave away a 3-0 first-leg lead against Guangzhou R&F, who mounted a remarkable comeback in the return fixture to win 4-3 on aggregate, meaning Benitez’s men finished the season in a disappointing 12th-place.
It would be a huge shock to see Benitez rock-up at Pride Park in the near future, but you never know...
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