Rafa Benitez wants to return to Newcastle under new Saudi Arabian-backed ownership and has targeted two England players to bring with him, claims a report.
According to the Daily Telegraph Benitez has set his sights on an “emotional” return with the club’s £300million takeover close to completion.
It’s understood Steve Bruce will remain in charge until the end of the season, but no player shortlists have been drawn up over summer signings and the speculation that the new owners want their own man in charge will only heighten.
Benitez, 60, left the club at the end of last season after his contract expired and he went to China to manage Dalian Professional, but the report claims the Spaniard “is interested in making a return under a new ownership”.
And he already has a list of players he wants to recruit on Tyneside with John Stones and Ross Barkley at the top of the list.
Stones, apparently, will likely be made available by City, and the centre-back will want to get regular football ahead of the postponed Euros next summer.
Barkley is also in a similar position and wants to secure a place in Gareth Southgate’s squad for the Euros and the return of Ruben Loftus-Cheek could see him drop further down the pecking order at Chelsea.
The bid for Newcastle, put together by Amanda Staveley, which has been backed by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund and the Reuben Brothers, is currently in the hands of the Premier League.
If the bid is given the green light, Newcastle’s prospective new owners know that a move for Benitez will be popular with the fans after his three years previously with the club.
However, the new backers would have to negotiate his Dalian pay-off after he signed a two-and-a-half-year deal last summer. He is also known to be earning £12million a year, around £230,000 a week, in the Chinese Super League.