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Rafa: Will He Stay or Will He Go?

Fact: Rafa Benitez may or may not have an eggs Benedict dish named after him

Newcastle United v Huddersfield Town - Premier League
Those eyes, are ones you easily could get lost in
Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

With 12 months remaining on his contract, and so many teams desperate for a positive change, it should be no surprise that Rafael Benitez has garnered interest from a host of clubs. The Newcastle manager can be attributed for the club’s return to the premier league, and an overall culture shift that has many fan feeling nostalgic.

It is widely agreed that Benitez is the only reason Newcastle are not still in the Championship. His signings, tactics, and dedication to the club are the reason Newcastle are still battling it out in the Premier League unlike our rivals who are struggling to stay afloat in the Championship. The success he has had at Newcastle, despite having an owner who has been less than helpful, has been certainly attractive to a host of teams. Per The Chronicle, West Ham, Everton, Arsenal, and recently Real Sociedad, have all shown interest in the manager’s services. However, uncertainty over the manager’s future is still warranted, because while there are many reasons for the Spaniard to stay, there are equally as many reasons for him to move on.

It is important to note that teams would have to buy out the rest of his contract for a £6million fee if they were to try to snag the manager in the coming months. This has not deterred teams so far, but no official offers have been made according to The Chronicle. Despite the continued interest and the questions surrounding his future, Benitez has done an excellent job reminding people that he is committed to the club and finishing the season strong.

Newcastle United v Huddersfield Town - Premier League
This is a meme waiting to happen
Photo by Tony Marshall/Getty Images

As it pertains to Newcastle’s involvement in Rafa’s future, the club tried to extend his contract in the middle of January. The timing was of course horrid, as Rafa was focused on bringing in signings to improve the club in the midst of not having support from the front office. No deal was struck because of Rafa’s dedication to improving the team and no attempt at striking a deal has happened since. Of course a stressful January window in which the club did the bare minimum, likely does not make a good impression on Rafa, nonetheless, it is safe to assume that the club will continue to push for a contract extension.

A positive for the fans is that Rafa’s overhauling of the youth academy and under-23s likely points to him staying. Benitez has vowed to improve the youth academy, a process that is a long one and would require a lot of effort on his end and has begun replacing the entire u-23 team with new talent. These factors in addition to him publicly stating that he has been looking at targets for next season, confirm some sort of commitment to the club, however it is still possible the Spaniard could leave after next season.

In regards to the takeover situation, the only real player in the story of the sale of Newcastle has been Amanda Staveley’s PCP Capital Partners. That group has only expressed interest in the team as long as Rafa is at the helm. Having a world class manager, along with loyal fans that continue to sell out St. James regardless of the club’s position, make the club a great buy. The value of the club only increases as long as Benitez is there, so it would be ridiculous for the club to not attempt to extend his stay in Newcastle.

Newcastle United v Huddersfield Town - Premier League
Loved by players, Rafa surely wouldn't want to leave a shirtless Deandre Yedlin
Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

One huge factor for Benitez to stay is that he could become a club legend. Beloved by Newcastle fans, popular with the players, and still regarded as one of the best managers in the world; Benitez has all the cards to be considered a club legend. There is no pressure for him to succeed at Newcastle, because he already has done what many thought was impossible. Any sort of Champions League place finish, or cup win would cement him as one of the great managers of this era.

The situation in which he undertook the club was dire, and throughout his tenure he has seen almost no support from the ownership as he has tried to improve the team. In a modern era of football where the financial giants are the only winners in the sport, Rafa’s success with this team should not go unseen, and success to the level of a cup win or Champions League place finish would cement him as a master tactician. In the eyes of many fans he is already a club legend, at a minimum he has served as a beacon of hope that the club could return to its glory days. Rafa knows this, he knows how much the fans love this club, he knows how much the fans respect him, and he knows that he is the key to making Newcastle football royalty again. To be the man that returned Newcastle to glory is a hard deal to pass up, especially when the only other offers on the table are from teams where his impact would not be as lasting. For this reason, above all else, is why Rafa Benitez should and will stay with the club for at least another few years.