Sources: Benitez lined up for sensational Newcastle United return
Rafael Benitez is being lined up for a sensational return as Newcastle United manager, Football Insider understands.
The former boss of the north-east giants is the top managerial target of the Saudi-backed public investment fund (PiF).
A Newcastle source has told Football Insider that the latest situation is all parties are confident the Premier League will sanction the £300million PiF takeover after arbitration proceedings in July.
Those working on the deal have also laid the groundwork for Benitez to make a stunning return as manager to the club where fans idolise him.
It could see the Champions League winner back in the dugout for the new season with Steve Bruce making way.
Benitez has been out of work since quitting Chinese outfit Dalian Professional in January.
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It would certainly rank as an immensely popular move where the Spaniard, whose main family home is in Merseyside, to be lured back to Tyneside.
That is what the consortium, which is a joint venture between Saudi Arabia’s public investment fund, the billionaire UK-based Reuben Brothers and Amanda Staveley, are working towards behind the scenes.
PIF, which has offered to buy 80 per cent of Mike Ashley’s shares, is chaired by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman.
Ashley has launched an all-out assault on the Premier League after the takeover was blocked last summer.
As well as beginning arbitration proceedings, Newcastle are seeking damages from the Premier League.
They accuse the top flight of breaking anti-competition law with their decision to block the takeover.
Benitez became Newcastle boss in March 2016 but was unable to prevent the club’s relegation.
However, he oversaw the Magpies’ instant return to the top flight, coming up from the Championship as Champions.
Newcastle then secured a top-ten finish during their first season back in the Premier League.
Benitez stepped down after a trickier second season, a move for which Ashley received a barrage of criticism.
The Spaniard became an idol for the Geordie faithful as he spoke regularly about the club’s progression.
He was replaced by Bruce as Newcastle flirted with relegation in the seasons following Benitez’ departure.