Rafael Benitez is a giant of the Premier League era.
Indeed, the Spaniard, who is currently in charge of Chinese Super League club Dalian Yifang, has succeeded in spells at Chelsea, Liverpool and Newcastle United and there are hints that he is fishing for a return to England, giving a number of interviews to put himself in the shop window again.
With the managerial carousel set to start turning, Benitez has been mentioned as a potential candidate for a number of clubs both in England and on the continent, but which would job would suit him best? What club should be at the front of the queue?
We take a look...
Unai Emery is as good as finished at the Emirates Stadium.
Saturday’s turgid draw at home to second-bottom Southampton has left the Spaniard hanging on to his job as Arsenal manager by his fingernails. Most see it as only a matter of time before a change is made, with Benitez one of the names offered up as a potential replacement.
Benitez might not be the elite manager Arsenal fans desire, but at this stage of the season they could do a lot worse than appoint the Spaniard on a short-term contract.
Under Benitez, the Gunners would surely stand a better chance of eradicating the defensive rot that can be traced all the way back to the days of Arsene Wenger. As a former Chelsea boss, some Arsenal fans might not welcome Benitez with open arms, but they warmed to Petr Cech over time.
As a former Liverpool manager, it’s likely that this appointment would divide the Everton support.
But put tribalism aside and there is plenty to back up the notion that Benitez would be the best possible appointment for the Goodison Park side at this point. The Spaniard should be the Toffees’ number one candidate if/when Marco Silva is shown the door.
One of Everton’s biggest problems is their lack of organisation. This is something Benitez would address almost instantly. The 59-year-old has a track record of steadying sinking ships having performed a similar role for Chelsea a number of years ago. What’s more, Benitez still has a family home on Merseyside and is widely known to consider himself a native of the local area.
“The biggest difference between Gerard Houllier and Rafa Benitez was Houllier spent only one day a week on the training pitch and that day was Friday."@NeilMellor33 reveals what is was like working under the former Liverpool managers... 🔴📺#LFC— The Sack Race (@thesackrace) August 22, 2019
The Hammers have a long-standing interest in Benitez.
They wanted the Spaniard while he was at Newcastle United and so with Manuel Pellegrini under intense pressure following a dreadful run of recent form it’s unsurprising that Benitez is once again being linked with a move to the London Stadium.
West Ham are a team (and a club) without much of an identity. This has been an issue for a number of years, but has been further underlined recently. Benitez is a maximiser of talent and a popular figure with fans. He was adored at both Liverpool and Newcastle United. West Ham’s owners would surely like the Spaniard to establish a similarly warm relationship with a fanbase seemingly in a perpetual state of disgruntlement.
Benitez’s first spell at Napoli didn’t end in glory, with the San Paolo outfit missing out on Champions League qualification on the final day of the 2014/15 season. However, they still remember Benitez somewhat fondly in Italy after enjoying moderate success over two years at Napoli.
This season has seen Napoli slip into crisis, with the club’s owner clashing with Carlo Ancelotti and his players. It’s been subsequently speculated that Ancelotti could depart sooner rather than later and if that happens Benitez could be lured back to Serie A. For all their recent troubles, there is still a talented squad at the San Paolo and with that great potential for an upswing.