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Rafa Benitez: 5 Clubs the Spaniard Could Join Next Season

Ryan BaileyFeatured ColumnistMay 20, 2013

Rafa Benitez: 5 Clubs the Spaniard Could Join Next Season

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    After six months of service, a Europa League trophy, a place in the Champions League and better win percentages than Roberto Di Matteo, Andres Villas-Boas and Luiz Felipe Scolari, Rafa Benitez has reached the end of his Chelsea contract.

    He was so maligned by the Blues faithful that he chose not to take a lap of honour at the end of Sunday's victory over Everton, and was not given a single utterance of thanks after the game.

    According to The Mirror, the players bought Guus Hiddink a £200,000 watch at the end of his reign—no such time was made for Rafa.

    Despite this tumultuous employment situation, Benitez is still in demand for some of the biggest managerial jobs in Europe. Here are five clubs who could issue his next pay check...

Paris Saint-Germain

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    It's no longer a secret that Carlo Ancelotti wishes to leave PSG on account of a job offer from Real Madrid. Sporting director Leonardo, however, has made it quite clear the Ligue 1 side wish to hold onto their manager (source in French).

    In the likely scenario that the Parisians fail to hold onto their coach, Rafa Benitez will undoubtedly be waiting in the wings. A few weeks ago, The Metro claimed the Spaniard had begun talks with the Qatari-owned side, after they failed to progress negotiations with Arsene Wenger.

    When Benitez was quizzed by BeIn Sport last week about a move to France, he cryptically said, "You never know," reports goal.com.

    With their bountiful resources and Champions League aspirations, a manager with four major European finals on his CV would appear to be a perfect fit.

Stoke

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    With enviable win percentages of 56.2 percent and 58.3 percent at Liverpool and Chelsea respectively, Rafa Benitez has done more than enough to deserve another job in the Premier League.

    He may have been recommended for the vacant Everton job by Jamie Carragher, according to talkSPORT, but this week the Spaniard ruled out the move, reports The Express. Presumably this is because he was Liverpool manager, but perhaps because he once dismissively called them a "small club." And he already knows the bitter taste of joining a club he has previously insulted.

    With the bookmakers, he is currently the favorite choice for next manager at Liverpool (9-1), Newcastle (8-1) and Stoke (8-1).

    Unless there are any huge surprises, Liverpool and Newcastle will not be recruiting this summer. Which leaves Stoke.

    Potters fans have become increasingly frustrated with Tony Pullis' unattractive brand of route one football, and would no doubt have been impressed by the 4-0 rout he pulled off at the Britannia Stadium early in his Chelsea reign.

    Rafa has form with leading the underdogs to glory with Valencia, but at this stage of his career he may ultimately choose to opt for a more "glamorous" team with a bigger budget.

Malaga

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    Manuel Pellegrini looks set to be announced as Manchester City's new manager, but at one point he was linked—according to The Guardian—to the now-vacant Chelsea job.

    It is, however, quite possible that a manager will make the move between Stamford Bridge and La Rosaleda this summer, as Benitez has been tipped to succeed the Premiership-bound Chilean.

    Malaga would be an attractive prospect, thanks to their recent Champions League success and Benitez's aforementioned form with successfully challenging Spain's big two with an underdog.

    Yet with an owner who seems reticent to pay his staff or rectify the damage of a Champions League ban, Malaga might not be the ideal destination for a manager looking to avoid frustration.

Real Madrid

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    With Jose Mourinho looking set to clear out his desk at Real Madrid imminently, the hunt for a successor is on.

    Benitez's stock may have fallen a little in England, but he is still widely respected in Spain, particularly his home city of Madrid.

    Rafa—who started his youth and coaching careers with Real Madrid— has been linked with the Bernabeu gig ever since he brought two La Liga titles to Valencia. In February, he referred to the club as his "sweetheart" on Spanish radio, according to The Guardian.

    Taking over at the casablanca would be pretty stressful, but Benitez has shown he is not as sensitive to fan pressure as Mourinho has proven to be.

Napoli

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    After leading Napoli to second place in Serie A, coach Walter Mazzarri stood down after Sunday's loss at Roma.

    Spanish sports daily Marca are among the sources claiming Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis was in London on Monday meeting with the Spaniard, who is currently set to join Chelsea on their tour of the USA next week.

    Benitez already has plenty of experience in Italy, having succeeded Jose Mourinho after their historic treble-winning season of 2009-10.

    According to The Daily Mail, Rafa's agent Garcia Manuel Quillon will not rule out a move to Naples, and he is currently the overwhelming favorite with the bookies.

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