Rafa Benitez is set to lose a key man before the season even starts.

Fabio Pecchia is set to take over as Manager of Verona according to Sky Sports in Italy.

Sky Sports journalist Gianluca Di Marzio reports that Pecchia will take over Verona, after they parted company with Luigi Del Neri following finishing rock bottom of Serie A this past season.

The 42 year old played for a host of Serie A clubs including Napoli, Juventus and Sampdoria, then after retirement had a brief spell in lower league management in Italy before teaming up with Rafa Benitez.

Fabio Pecchia has been Rafa’s assistant at Napoli, Real Madrid and Newcastle but it now looks as though that relationship will be ended with Pecchia returning to management in Serie B rather than staying on Tyneside.

When Rafa Benitez was announced as staying at Newcastle last Wednesday, there was maybe a clue that changes were possible in his backroom team.

The official statement released by Newcastle didn’t confirm that Rafa’s backroom team were also staying, instead stating:

A further announcement regarding Benitez’s coaching staff will be made in due course.’

Ian Cathro was the only one of the coaching staff to survive when Steve McClaren was sacked, so if Fabio Pecchia does take over at Verona, it would appear he is in prime position to replace him.