Benitez eyes Premier League return, but where would be good for him?

The Spaniard said he would like to return to the Premier League.

Former Liverpool and Chelsea manager Rafa Benitez has said he would like to return to the Premier League one day.

The Spaniard is currently at Serie A side Napoli and won the Coppa Italia in his first season at the club, along with a third place finish meaning qualification for next season's Champions League.

His side was also unlucky to be knocked out of the Champions League group stages having finished on 12 points with both Borussia Dortmund and Arsenal, the Italians dropped down to the Europa League and were knocked out at the last-16 stage by Porto.

Benitez won the Champions League and FA Cup during his time at Anfield, and led them to a record Premier League points total in the 2008/09 season as the Reds finished four points adrift of Manchester United in the title race that season.

During his time at Chelsea he led them to third-place finish and won the Europa League as he was drafted in on an interim basis, replacing the sacked Roberto Di Matteo.

When asked on TalkSport over whether he would return to the Premier League to manage again, he said: 

“Of course.

“I’m very happy at Napoli with the fans, the club, the city, the president and the players. Everything is fine, but my family is living in England.

“My daughters are in school and they will go to university there.

“My idea in the future is to come back. I’m very pleased in Italy at the moment, and they are supporting me all the time but, in the end, you never know though.”

Prior to him taking the Chelsea job, it was hard to see him at any other Premier League team. He seemed to have such an affinity with Liverpool, both the club and the city - with his family still living on the other side of the Mersey.

So there were a few eyebrows raised when he took the job at Stamford Bridge, not to mention he wasn't wanted by the lions' share of Chelsea fans, if any at all.

So what kind of club would Benitez be suited to? 

It's doubtful that he would want to go to a club other than one that had Champions League potential at least. Given his track record, he has spent a lot of his time at clubs who have been in Europe's premier club competition, or at least had the potential to qualify for it. 

For a start it is hard seeing him ever returning to Liverpool. Though prior to the appointment of Brendan Rodgers some will have welcomed Benitez back with open arms but it is hard to see the Reds needing a change of manager in the foreseeable future, and if they did the club would more than likely want to go for a younger option - and given his affinity with Liverpool that should automatically rule out Everton and Manchester United.

One club that is currently without a manager is Southampton and given their impressive eighth place finish in the Premier League last season, along with the long list of academy products linked with lucrative moves away from the Saints, it shows that is a club with immense potential. If Benitez were available this summer, there would probably be one or two punters having a small wager on the Spaniard taking up an offer on the South Coast, because who knows what Southampton could achieve?.

Some Tottenham fans commented on pieces on this website suggesting that Benitez would have been the kind of man to take control at White Hart Lane prior to the appointment of Mauricio Pochettino. With the kind of squad that Spurs have at their disposal, if he was available it wouldn't have been beyond the realms of possibility that Benitez would have been up for the challenge.

One could imagine if Manchester City decide to wield the axe in the next couple of years then he might be interest in the job at Eastlands, and amongst the favourites in the betting market, whether that interest will come from City if that happens is another matter entirely.

But it is all about timing. For now, towards the top end of the Premier League things seem a little more settled, and Benitez seems pretty focused on Napoli. He'll no doubt be targeting the Scudetto next season as he tries to overhaul both Juventus and Roma with an exciting group of players at his disposal.



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