Benitez 'eyes Newcastle return' and identifies England pair as first signings


Rafa Benitez is reportedly hopeful of sealing a return to former club Newcastle and has already identified two players he’d like to sign.

The Spaniard is still held in high regard at St. James’ Park from his three years spent in charge, and has been among the names linked with the managerial hotseat if the club’s £300million takeover goes through.

Should the Saudi Arabia Investment Fund be handed the keys to the club, current boss Steve Bruce’s tenure looks set to be cut short at the end of the season.

According to The Telegraph, Benitez is keen to take the reins back from Bruce, and bring in Man City defender John Stones and Chelsea midfielder Ross Barkley as new signings.

Rafa Benitez is reportedly hopeful of returning to Newcastle
Rafa Benitez is reportedly hopeful of returning to Newcastle

A stumbling block to Benitez’s potential return would be his current contract with Chinese Super League side Dalian Professional.

However given Newcastle’s prospective new owners have plenty of cash at their disposal, a compensation package should not prove to be a major obstacle.

His appointment would certainly curry immediate favour for the new owners with Newcastle fans, who were sad to see Benitez leave the club in 2019.

The 60-year-old took Newcastle back to the Premier League before keeping them up on a small budget.

Benitez wants to make Barkley and Stones his first signings
Benitez wants to make Barkley and Stones his first signings

A standoff over his contract with Mike Ashley which led to his eventual departure was believed to centre around a lack of backing in the transfer market, something which Benitez would want assurances over before turning his back on China.

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That seems a given under the Saudi consortium, and ex-Everton teammates Stones and Barkley would be welcome additions to the Newcastle squad.

Stones, 25, has failed to hit the heights expected of him at Man City following his £50million switch in 2016, but still has plenty to offer in the top flight.

It is thought City would be prepared to listen to offers for his services, with Arsenal also said to be interested.

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Barkley meanwhile has had a minor resurgence of his career under Frank Lampard at Chelsea, though has still struggled to cement his place as a first choice regular.

Chelsea would be open to selling the 26-year-old as they have an abundance of midfield talent, and would be able to secure a handsome profit on the £15million they paid Everton for his services two years ago.

Of course Benitez is not the only name in the frame for the Newcastle job, with former Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino also being linked with a return to the Premier League.

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