Sacked from his post as Real Madrid head coach after just 25 matches in charge, Rafael Benitez would welcome a return to the Premier League claims Guillem Balague.
On the face of it, the 55-year-old was doing a fairly decent job at the Bernabeu: his side are just four points behind city rivals Atletico in the race for the title not even at the half-way point yet, and are through to the last-16 of the UEFA Champions League. The only blip is in the Copa del Rey were they were disqualified for fielding an ineligible player against Cadiz.
However, there was little surprise when Benitez was shown the door following the 2-2 draw at Valencia on Sunday evening. The style of play he had implemented at Real had not gone down well with the clubs fanbase, and there was also widespread speculation that he had lost the support from some of the key players in the star-studded dressing room.
A 4-0 defeat to rivals Barcelona also helped nudge him out of the door, and the pressure showed last week when he accused the media of a campaign against himself, the club and its president Florentino Perez. What the future holds for Benitez now remains to be seen, but Balague believes the former Liverpool and Chelsea coach would welcome a return to England.
“Before he signed for Real Madrid he almost signed for West Ham United, and I think he would have enjoyed West Ham much more,” the Spanish football expert told Sky Sports. “He wants to come to the Premier League, quite clearly. By almost accepting West Ham suggests that he will be willing to go anywhere in the top 10 of the Premier League.”
During his time at Liverpool, Benitez led the Reds to UEFA Champions League glory in 2005 and the FA Cup the following year, but was unable to end their long wait for a league title. His appointment at Chelsea was a controversial one due to the rivalry he had with the Londoners whilst at Anfield, but he guided the capital club to UEFA Europa League glory during his short stint.
As well as the recent approach from West Ham, Benitez has also attracted interest from both Aston Villa and Newcastle United in the past. Although he is not everyone’s cup of tea, he does have an impressive track record which also includes two La Liga titles and the Uefa Cup with Valencia, a FIFA World Club Cup with Internazionale, and the Coppa Italia with Napoli.
“A lot of people, for different reasons, have made a caricature out of him, but he is one of the top 10 managers in the last decade,” added Balague. “He has won trophies everywhere. In England I think we are feeling he has been harshly treated, and he has regained some credit. I think everybody knows what a difficult club Real is, and what Benitez can bring to a team.”