All the talk in Italy has been of Rafa Benitez returning to Napoli.
Managing the Italian club from 2013-2015, at the end of his two year deal, Rafa chose to leave and take the Real Madrid job.
His replacement at Napoli, Maurizio Sarri, has done a great job but still hasn’t been able to break the Juventus stranglehold. This season Napoli only lost three Serie A games all season but despite finishing 14 points clear of third place, they were still four points behind Juventus.
Indeed, the last trophies won by the club were under Rafa Benitez, the Coppa Italia and Supercoppa (beating Juventus on penalties) in 2014.
With Sarri looking certain to leave, probably to Chelsea, recent media reports had claimed the Newcastle manager had even already held talks with Napoli President Aurelio De Laurentiis, head of a return this summer.
However, in an interview with Italian media, Rafa Benitez has now revealed that the media reports are fantasy, that he has held no talks with anybody at Napoli.
Indeed the Spaniard has declared that he has no intention of moving back to Italy, saying ‘My priority is to stay in England’, with one of the main reasons for that being ‘I have to manage my family.’
Even better for Newcastle United fans is that Rafa says that NUFC have ‘made me some offers to stay here for a few more years’ and that he is ‘only talking to Newcastle right now.’
The message is clear, and simply repeats what he has said many times before, Rafa Benitez is desperate to stay at St James Park BUT will only do so if Mike Ashley allows the manager the right backing to try and make the club competitive.
Sunday’s post-match statement from Mike Ashley not exactly a positive, when he should be communicating direct with Rafa Benitez, if he is in any way serious about doing the right thing.
Rafa Benitez talking to CalcioNapoli24:
“Many of these Napoli players who have been together for five years, have the advantage of understanding each other, without even looking at each other
“This gives them an advantage and, with the work of Sarri, the team did well, although they didn’t win any trophies, perhaps because Juventus are so strong.
“We won a trophy against them and it wasn’t easy, but they have the ability to improve themselves in the transfer market.
“They always remain at the top, while it’s different at Napoli: in order to buy quality, you have to take risks.
“They went close this season, but Juventus are very strong and in order to beat them, you have to be close to perfection.
“After that, you must have that so-called winning mentality because when you’re under pressure, those with more experience can make the difference.
“My future? I’ve heard so much talk, but I haven’t spoken to De Laurentiis: I have a contract with Newcastle, I’m talking to them about my renewal.
“They made me some offers to stay here for a few more years, plus I have to manage my family: if I decided to go to Newcastle and stay there, even in the Championship, it’s also because of my family.
“My priority is to stay in England. I’m only talking to Newcastle right now.”