Rafa Benitez has left the door open for a possible return to Newcastle and admitted he is still following ‘every game’ and in contact with several first-team players.
The Spaniard has been without a job since leaving his post at Chinese side Dalian Professional in January, but called the Premier League his “priority” destination when he does return to management.
He has been linked with a move to Spurs in recent days to replace Jose Mourinho, who was sacked a fortnight ago.
Here’s what he said in an exclusive interview with Sky Sports:
“When I left, I said it was a pity because I was really happy there.
“You never know what can happen in the future.
“I follow every game and I’m in contact with some of the players.
“I try to analyse and say, oh I could do this and that, because it’s natural for any manager to see how you could improve things.
Benitez then discussed his move to China and his preference to land a Premier League job now he’s back in England with family:
“I moved to China because there were no top sides here, so I needed to keep competing and doing my job.
“But at the moment I’m quite keen to stay in England, in Liverpool. I’m watching every Premier League game and sometimes Championship games so that I’m always ready.
“The priority is England, the Premier League, my family is here and I like the style of football here. I will try to be ready here.
“I am watching the Serie A because it is a good league for me but there, in France, in Germany, in Portugal, I don’t see too many options in these countries to have a project where you can develop players and make the team more competitive.”
Benitez remains one of Europe’s top managers, with an accomplished CV good enough to match most coaches on the continent.
A return to Tyneside would be incredibly popular with the Toon Army, but is only a realistic possibility if Mike Ashley sells up to ambitious new owners.
Seeing him manage another top flight team would be a bitter pill to swallow for supporters, but Rafa would be welcomed back warmly on his St James’ Park return – no matter what side he is representing.