Rafael Benitez is keen on a return to Newcastle as the club nears a money-spinning takeover from Saudi-backed consortium PCP Capital Partners.
Mike Ashley’s controversial ownership of Newcastle looks likely to come to an end in the coming weeks, with a proposed £300m takeover close to completion pending Premier League approval.
The deal will see the Magpies catapulted into the financial elite and the new owners are believed to harbour ambitions of attracting big names to St James’ Park, including the appointment of a leading manager to replace current boss Steve Bruce.
Amongst the names reportedly being considered is former Newcastle boss Benitez, the Spaniard a hugely popular figure during three seasons in the North East before leaving to take charge of Chinese Super League side Dalian Professional last year.
According to the Telegraph, however, Benitez is open to the possibility of returning to the Premier League under the club’s new ownership, with the prospect of a competitive transfer budget and the opportunity to turn Newcastle into challengers for silverware likely to appeal to the Champions League winning coach.
The report adds that Benitez is already eyeing prospective transfer targets should he make a return, a wish-list which includes deals for England internationals John Stones and Ross Barkley.
Stones has struggled to establish himself as a key figure at Manchester City and has endured a difficult season this term, form and fitness issues having hindered the centre-back who has been linked with a departure from the reigning Premier League champions.
The 25-year-old is likely to want assurances over his playing time ahead of next summer’s European Championships with England, and Benitez is reportedly hopeful of persuading the defender to join the club’s exciting new project.
Barkley – who has also been linked with West Ham – will similarly be seeking regular first-team football to secure his place in the national side, the midfielder having enjoyed mixed fortunes since making a £15m to Chelsea from Everton in 2018.
The midfielder has impressed on occasion for Frank Lampard’s side this season, but facing increased competition from the likes of Mason Mount and the returning Ruben Loftus-Cheek could be forced out of Stamford Bridge this summer.