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Former Liverpool manager Benitez emerges as front-runner for Everton job

3:56 AM SGT 17/6/21
Rafael Benitez Newcastle United Premier League 2019
Goal can confirm that the Spaniard has held positive talks with the Toffees board, after the they cooled their interest in former Wolves boss Nuno

Rafa Benitez has emerged as the surprise front-runner for the vacant manager’s job at Everton.

Goal can confirm that the Spaniard has held positive talks with the Toffees board, after the they cooled their interest in former Wolves boss Nuno Espirito Santo.

Sources say a deal could even be finalised this week, with the 61-year-old becoming the first man to have managed both Liverpool and Everton.

What’s the situation?

Everton have been searching for a new boss since Carlo Ancelotti’s shock resignation earlier this month.

A number of candidates were considered by Farhad Moshiri, the club’s majority owner, and as recently as last weekend it appeared that Nuno was the preferred candidate.

Brighton’s Graeme Potter was also discussed at board level, as were former Blues managers Roberto Martinez and David Moyes, as well as former Bournemouth boss Eddie Howe.

Benitez, though, is understood to have admirers within the club despite his strong Liverpool connections. He managed the Reds between 2004 and 2010, winning the Champions League in 2005 and the FA Cup a year later. Wednesday marked the 17th anniversary of his arrival at Anfield.

He has been out of work since leaving Chinese Super League club Dalian Professional in January, but has been keen to return to top-level management. The fact that his family is still based near Liverpool, on the Wirral peninsula, makes the Everton job even more appealing.

How would his appointment go down with Everton fans?

Were he to be appointed, it would be surely the most contentious decision in Everton’s recent history.

Benitez will forever be associated with Liverpool given that famous night in Istanbul in 2005, and he has clashed with Everton in the past, famously referring to them as “a small club” after a Merseyside derby in 2007.

A number of fans have already taken to social media to express their concerns, though his pedigree as a manager and his willingness to step into such a controversial role may count in his favour.

Benitez won two La Liga titles and a UEFA Cup with Valencia, and guided Chelsea to the Europa League in 2013. He also won an Italian Cup with Napoli.

Spells with Inter Milan in 2010 and Real Madrid in 2015-16 were less succesful,  although he did win the Italian Super Cup and the FIFA Club World Cup at Inter - but Benitez is revered at Newcastle, who he led to Championship success in 2017, before consolidating the Magpies as a Premier League club.

Further reading

Club-by-club Premier League 2021-22 fixtures