Rafa Benitez has given another clear indication that he’d return to Newcastle United if a takeover went through at St James’ Park.
He states that the Premier League is a ‘target’ of his and a likely next step, hinting that it would be a no-brainer to return if ambitious new owners arrived when he previously agreed to stay when we had “no money” under Mike Ashley.
The Spaniard – who is currently out in China with Dalian Pro – also claims that he made a decision to leave Newcastle United so late in the day in 2019 as he was waiting “until the last minute” for a Bin Zayed takeover to go through.
On the subject of his departure last summer, he states that he was left in an “impossible” situation, with Mike Ashley unwilling and unable to back his vision for the club.
Here’s what he told BBC Radio 5 Live last night:
“When I left Newcastle, I was waiting until the last minute for a takeover, but obviously it didn’t happen.
“I had a very clear idea that in this situation it was impossible to stay, even if I was really happy there.
“If you remember, when I went to Newcastle we were fighting until the end and we were relegated, then in the last game we played against Tottenham and I think it was maybe one of the best games in the history of Newcastle…we beat them 5-1 with 10 men.
“The fans that day were amazing and I decided to stay because of them, because I could see the potential of the club.
“So with all of those things in your head…if I decided to stay when we had no money, imagine with a takeover.
“At the moment I have a lot of respect because I have a job [in the Chinese Super League] and I am very grateful to Dalian and Wanda – but the Premier League is a target for me.”
The former NUFC boss also had this to say when asked if he was interested in taking the vacant job at Derby County – a club set to be bought by the Bin Zayed Group of all people:
“No, not really.
“It is a big club and I have a lot of respect for them but at the moment I am focused on trying to pass my quarantine here, spend a little time in England and prepare the next season.
“You never know because football and life is changing so much but at the moment, no.”
For me, Rafa Benitez deserves the chance to come back and build on the big project he had planned for us if wealthy new owners were to eventually arrive in Mike Ashley’s place.
He got the best out of his players and understood every single element of Newcastle – from the fans, to the city, community and beyond.
As he famously once said, ‘we are Newcastle United, we are not a stepping stone’ – an empowering line you just can’t imagine coming from current boss Steve Bruce.
It may be pie in the sky unless a takeover is genuinely back on the cards, but I firmly believe we would finally get our great club back if Rafa Benitez returned with considerable backing from new owners.