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Could Newcastle United’s Rafa Benitez be the man to take over at Arsenal?

Benitez
Photo: Getty Images

Arsenal

Could Newcastle United’s Rafa Benitez be the man to take over at Arsenal?

The Spaniard could be the ideal successor to Arsene Wenger.

Ever since Arsene Wenger announced he would be stepping down as Arsenal manager at the end of last season, some major names in world football have been linked with the post.

The first name, and currently among the bookies’ favourites, is former Barcelona boss Luis Enrique, who has also been reported to be interested in the Chelsea job if Antonio Conte leaves this summer.

Juventus manager Massimiliano Allegri, Carlo Ancelotti and even Liverpool assistant manager Zeljko Buvac have been linked.

However, one name that hasn’t been mentioned is Newcastle’s Rafa Benitez.

Benitez took over at St James’s Park after his sacking from Real Madrid in 2016, and suffered a relegation on his CV in his first season.

It was widely expected that the Magpies would have gone down regardless of the manager, and he built a team which bounced back up to the Premier League a year later.

He has been rumoured to have had disputes with the owner Mike Ashley since stabilising Newcastle as a solid Premier League outfit since, mainly over transfer budgets.

His glittering CV is matched by few, with success in both the Champions League, with Liverpool, and the Europa League with Chelsea.

 

He also won two La Liga titles with Valencia in 2001/02 and 2003/04, with a UEFA Cup success in the latter of those seasons, before making the switch to Anfield.

Benitez sets his teams up well, and they are both solid defensively and threatening going forward.

The signing of Brazilian winger Kenedy has helped to transform Newcastle’s season, and whereas previously they struggled for goals, they are now much easier to come by.

On the flip side, ‘keeper Martin Dubravka, signed on loan from Sparta Prague in January, has had an excellent campaign, his star performance coming in the Magpies’ 1-0 home win against Manchester United.

One of Benitez’s first acts as Newcastle manager was to appoint centre-back Jamaal Lascelles as captain, and the ex-Nottingham Forest man has certainly paid back the Spaniard’s faith with some impressive performances.

(Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)

He has been touted to get a call-up to the England World Cup squad this summer, but may find there are too many players ahead of him at the moment.

At 58 years of age, Benitez has plenty of managing left in him and time to build up a solid base at Arsenal like Wenger has done over the years.

Whether Newcastle will let him go would be the main sticking point if the Gunners did go in for him.

The Magpies fans rate him as one of their greatest ever managers, and the work he has done there despite budget restraints has been impressive.

However, if he did go to Arsenal, he would surely make an impact and turn the club back into a force to be reckoned with, both at domestic and European level.

The Boot Room is a football analysis website, bringing original and creative content to the fans of the English Football League.

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