Leeds United's Pablo Hernandez once hailed Rafa Benitez as 'king', have Newcastle missed out?

Pablo Hernandez of Swansea City appeals for a decision

Should Newcastle have moved for Leeds ace Pablo Hernandez?

Pablo Hernandez of Swansea City appeals for a decisionPablo Hernandez of Swansea City appeals for a decision

As far as managers in the Championship go, Rafa Benitez's record and likely list of contacts is unrivalled.

The 2005 Champions League winner really made his name at Valencia, who he led to the La Liga title in 2001/02 and 2003/04.

One of the players in the B team in 2004 was Pablo Hernandez, who went onto establish himself as a first team star and Spanish international after Benitez had left for Liverpool.

Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez v Burnley - 2005Former Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez v Burnley - 2005

Hernandez holds Benitez in high regard, telling the South Wales Evening Post, reported by SkySports in 2014 that he remembers him fondly.

He said: "I used to see Rafa at the training ground and the way he worked with players. He used to make sure that the young players had a lot of work so it was possible for them in the future to play for the first team."

A year earlier he had told The Express: "Rafa is a king in Valencia and the people love him there because he won three important titles. The club haven’t won anything since."

Hernandez has gone up against Benitez twice in recent years when the Spaniard was managing Chelsea and Napoli and the player was at Swansea, and now he is set to face him twice a season in the Championship.

Pablo Hernandez celebrates scoring the third goal for SwanseaPablo Hernandez celebrates scoring for Swansea

The attacking midfielder signed for Leeds United on a six month loan deal which will become permanent in January, leaving Al Arabi, and at 31 still has plenty to offer, having spent last season on loan at La Liga side Rayo Vallecano.

For all Benitez's contacts, he might just have really missed a trick here, with Hernandez capable of adding a touch of class to Leeds United's attack.

Had Newcastle signed the former Spanish international, they would have been lauded as even more near certainties to win promotion.

They have bought well this transfer window, but are missing an player capable of igniting their attack, despite the addition of Matt Ritchie from Bournemouth.

Leeds boss Garry Monk used his contact with Hernandez, who he played alongside and managed at Swansea to swing a deal, and it may be one Benitez is kicking himself at not making.

Newcastle manager Rafael BenitezNewcastle manager Rafael Benitez

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