Newcastle boss Rafa Benitez has emerged as a surprise candidate to replace Maurizio Sarri at Chelsea, with the Italian heavily linked with the Juventus hot seat following Massimiliano Allegri’s departure.
Tuttosport understand talks between Benitez and the Pensioners are ‘imminent’, and that a deal for the Spaniard to return to Stamford Bridge is possible, despite the Blues fanbase never much taking to the manager during his interim stint in South West London, during which he lifted the Europa League trophy.
Thankfully, the Turin-based newspaper also note that Chelsea are considering a number of managers to replace Sarri if he does leave after one season, and there remains hope on Tyneside that Benitez will still be at United next season.
The Spaniard’s Magpies contract is set to expire at the end of the month, and talks with Managing Director Lee Charnley and owner Mike Ashley have already drawn to a close after they handed Benitez a take it or leave it offer. The ongoing discussions regarding the potential takeover have also dragged on, and it is no longer expected that a deal will be completed before June 30.
It is a messy situation, but the Northern Echo believe Benitez is still working as normal on plans for pre-season at the club’s training ground, although he is keeping his options for the future open as a precaution.
Sources close to the Stamford Bridge outfit have also played down the likelihood of Benitez returning to the club, which takes another potential landing spot off the table if June 30 arrives without the gaffer putting pen to paper and committing his future to the Magpies.