Will Rafa Benitez leave Newcastle if they are relegated?

Will Rafa Benitez leave Newcastle if they are relegated?

Rafa Benitez’s contract is up at the end of the season

Speculation is beginning to mount that Newcastle United manager Rafa Benitez may leave the club at the end of the season. The Spaniard has been at St James Park since March 2016, but his contract expires at the end of the current campaign and he is yet to sign a new one.

The hierarchy at the club want him to stay, and even offered him a five-year contract last summer as well as several 12-month packages but he rejected them all. It looks as though he will make a decision at the end of the season and hasn’t ruled out staying with the club, but it could depend on which division the club are playing in next season and also the situation with Mike Ashley.

The Newcastle owner recently sanctioned the club record signing of Miguel Almiron from Atlanta United for around £20 million in an effort to convince Benitez to stay. But will it be a case of too little too late? Benitez himself said after the signing that it would be wrong to assume that he will sign a new contract just because of one signing, so his future remains up in the air.

Next manager to leave odds suggest he will stay for now

Whilst it has been a frustrating season for Benitez at Newcastle, there is no indication that he will leave before the end of the 2018/19 campaign. As mentioned above he is contracted to the club until then, the clubs owners want him to stay and there is surely no way he would walk out of the club now as he helps them fight against relegation.

The bookmakers do not believe he will go anywhere between now and May either. Indeed Betfair have him priced up with odds of 50/1 to be the next Premier League manager to leave, which places him ninth on the list behind the likes of Maurizio Sarri, Marco Silva and Claudio Ranieri.

Whether he stays beyond then is the big question. Ashley loosening the purse strings may help, and managing director Lee Charnley is keen to get a deal agreed with the 58-year-old, but with serious discussions yet to take place it could be a nervous few months for the clubs hierarchy.

Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley (left) and managing director Lee Charnley are desperate to convince Rafa Benitez to stay at the club.

Newcastle United relegation odds

There is no doubting that Newcastle United are well and truly in a relegation battle. The Magpies are 16th in the table after 26 matches, just a single point above the relegation zone and so dropping into the Championship for a third time in 10 years remains a distinct possibility.

Their last two Premier League campaigns have seen them have almost exactly the same amount of points after 26 games as they do now (25). Last season they went on to put a strong run of form together and by May they had moved up to 10th, but the time before they went in the opposite direction and ended up going down.

It will be interesting to say which way they go this time, but the bookmakers believe that they will manage to avoid relegation. The odds with bet365 for Newcastle to go down are as high as 7/1, with five other clubs (Southampton, Burnley, Cardiff City, Fulham and Huddersfield Town) considered more likely to be demoted. By contrast, the odds for the Magpies to stay up are 1/10 with the same bookmaker which shows how confident they are that Benitez will keep them up. If he does, that will certainly give the Tyneside club a better chance of convincing their manager to sign a new deal.

Rafa Benitez Newcastle United

The bookmakers still fancy Newcastle United to stay up this season despite their struggles.

Could Rafa Benitez return to Chelsea?

If Rafa Benitez did end up leaving the club in the summer, whether relegated or not, that then begs the question of where would he go next?

There is no doubting that there would hardly be a shortage of options for the Spaniard. Whilst Newcastle have tended to struggle in the Premier League during his reign it hasn’t really been his fault. He has been hamstrung by a small budget, with owner Mike Ashley never really backing him in the transfer market whilst in the top flight – the recent signing of Miguel Almiron aside.

Considering the players he has actually had at his disposal, it can be argued that Benitez has been the only thing keeping the Magpies up and therefore has not damaged his high reputation at all whilst on Tyneside. He still has an outstanding CV which includes winning two La Liga titles whilst at Valencia and a Champions League win from his days as Liverpool manager.

Another club where Rafa enjoyed success was Chelsea, despite their being some resistance to his appointment at Stamford Bridge. He replaced Roberto De Matteo at the helm after a poor start to the 2012/13 season, but turned things around and ended up winning the Europa League by beating Benfica in the final before making way for Jose Mourinho.

Maurizio Sarri is currently under lot of pressure after a string of poor results at the Blues, and after their 6-0 defeat to Manchester City became favourite to be the next manager to leave. If he were to go and Chelsea were on the lookout for a new manager, could Benitez be an option? Despite his excellent CV it seems unlikely given he was never really a fans favourite whilst in charge of the Blues, which is reflected in the bookmakers odds as he is 33/1 to return to Chelsea with BetVictor.

Maurizio Sarri is under pressure at Chelsea, could Rafael Benitez replace him?

Odds available for Rafa Benitez to join three other clubs

The Spaniard can be backed to take over the reigns at three other clubs with the bookmakers too, the first of which is Everton. This would be a controversial choice given his strong links to Liverpool, and whether he would do it or if the club would even consider a former Reds boss is questionable. But as Marco Silva comes under an increased amount of pressure at Goodison Park following a poor run of results he could soon be sacked, and given his experience and pedigree Benitez would actually be a decent appointment. You can back him to be the next Everton manager at 15/2 with Betfair.

Claude Puel is another Premier League manager under pressure following some suspect results, and it is a move to Leicester City which yields the shortest odds for Benitez. He is 7/2 to take the reigns at the King Power Stadium with BetVictor, making him the second favourite for the job. This one would make a lot of sense, the Foxes have a good squad and better finances than Newcastle which would enable Benitez to challenge higher up in the Premier League. However, is it enough of a step up for Benitez who lets not forget is used to managing elite clubs in Europe.

Finally, a return to Spain and former club Valencia is priced at 11/2 with Paddy Power. It was his spell at the Mestalla between 2001 and 2004 which kick-started the 58-year-old’s career in management, winning back-to-back La Liga titles and the UEFA Cup. He is still fondly thought of in Valencia and with them looking likely to miss out on Champions League qualification, they could decide to make a managerial change this summer and replace Marcelino. Could Benitez head back to his native Spain?

One thing looks certain, Benitez is set to be a wanted man this summer. Newcastle United are desperate to keep him, but with things still up in the air behind the scenes in terms of whether Ashley will sell and other clubs likely to come in for him there could be a big decision to make.

Despite the Newcastle owner spending money in January to try and convince him to stay, the fact Benitez still refuses to enter into contract talks makes us think this may be the last few months we see him in charge at St James Park. He could go to plenty of other clubs where he will have more money to spend, less hassle behind the scenes and perhaps most crucially a better chance at achieving something tangible.

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