Rafael Benitez is close to becoming Everton’s new manager on Wednesday after agreeing on a three-year contract at Goodison Park. Benitez, 61, is poised to become Carlo Ancelotti’s successor at the Premier League club after the Italian resigned from his post to return to Real Madrid on June 1.
Everton’s board discussed a number of other candidates following the shock departure of Ancelotti. These included West Ham United’s David Moyes, Belgium’s Roberto Martinez, and Brighton & Hove Albion’s Graham Potter. As per The Athletic, after failed talks with Nuno Espirito Santo, the board then made Benitez their leading candidate for the vacancy.
News of Benitez’s imminent appointment has already received a mixed reaction from Everton’s fanbase, with a threatening banner placed near his Merseyside home on Monday. After stints at Real Madrid and Napoli, Benitez took charge of Newcastle in March 2016 and was unable to prevent them from suffering relegation to the Championship.
The Spaniard remained with the club, won the Championship title the following year, and then led them to mid-table finishes in the Premier League before leaving as his contract expired. He then joined the Chinese Super League in 2019 with a lucrative £12 million annual net salary for two and half year contract at Dalian Yifang.
Benitez is taking charge of a squad that needs some reinforcement, albeit, with quality in key areas, that will feel it can do better than last season’s top ten finish in the Premier League. Everton was in the top six for much of last season, but their form dipped towards the end of the campaign and saw them miss out on a European qualification spot.
Benitez will have several issues to address as he joins Everton, including the futures of James Rodriguez and Richarlison as the South American duo have been linked with moves away from Merseyside. He must also quickly figure out the lay of the land in Everton’s boardroom, and then more pertinently how he will work with the club’s director of football with regards to recruitment for the club. The Spaniard will also have to clear the deadwood on the squad to reduce the financial burden on the club and give new opportunities to youth to win back the fans. Benitez will also have to earn the love and respect of fans due to his history with Liverpool.