According to the London Evening Standard, West Ham ‘are poised to bring Rafa Benitez to the London Stadium - providing they make the right offer’.
The club are moving quickly to replace David Moyes who got the sack on Wednesday, and reports suggest that Benitez is top of the owner’s new manager shortlist. West Ham Twitter has already convinced itself that the deal is done:
Rafa Benitez is the West Ham’s no.1 choice to take over as new manager. He feels like he owes the club after rejecting them to join Real Madrid, despite having an agreement in place. He is not happy at Newcastle and the Hammers will talk to his agents.— West Ham News (@whufc_news) May 16, 2018
[Source: @ExWHUemployee] pic.twitter.com/WUVYz61Dh8
Rafa Benitez is interested in becoming West Ham manager.— West Ham Central (@WestHam_Central) May 17, 2018
[Evening Standard] pic.twitter.com/QTz393dxpE
Before we start unrolling the Spanish flags and red carpet it’s important to bear a few things in mind that could jeopardise any future deal. Firstly Benitez remains employed as manager of Newcastle United, an agreement that will require at least £6 million from West Ham to break. Furthermore, we aren’t the only club interested, Zenit St Petersburg are also circling.
Benitez has been unhappy with Newcastle’s ownership and is demanding a transfer budget of at least £80 million for the summer. The Spaniard is reportedly in talks with Lee Charnley, managing director at St. James’ Park but is lacking the assurances to keep him in the North East.
The Standard’s report suggests that were Benitez to leave he would prefer to remain in the Premier League and is happy to relocate to London.
If West Ham can somehow pull of this move for a world class manager it would be a major coup. Benitez’s resume includes an impressive list of honours, including the UEFA Champions League, two La Liga titles and the FA Cup. There’s still a lot of variables here, but it would be a hugely positive step ahead of the 2018/19 Premier League campaign.