The Chronicle are reporting today that Spain approached Rafa before the World Cup in Russia to see if he would coach the team after they had bizarrely sacked manager Julen Lopetegui.
It looks like Newcastle were receptive to the idea with Rafa remaining as the Magpies manager, but the situation and contracts couldn’t be worked out in time, and eventually, Fernando Hierro took over.
But it was a poor World Cup for Spain who were beaten by Russia on penalties in the round of the last 16 of the tournament.
If Rafa had taken that job, it would have severely curtailed his management of the Newcastle side in preparation for next season and training began on Friday 6th July.
Rafa Benitez with his coaches in Ireland
The approach to Rafa came just a few days before the tournament started because that’s when the Spain FA surprisingly fired Julen Lopetegui.
Heres what Rafa has said about this:
“There was maybe a chance, but still I am here and I am happy to be here.”
“There was a chance. There were rumors about that.”
“We will see (if he will manage Spain at a World Cup one day). I still feel young so I have plenty of time to do that,”
“Spain I think are a very good team and they will be better in the future.”
Spain also considered approaching Rafa as the long-term manager, but the Spain FA appointed Luis Enrique as Lopetegui’s permanent successor; they couldn’t afford his release clause of one year’s wages – about £6M.
Enrique seemed the obvious long-term choice after he left Barcelona last year.
Rafa has lots of things he can do in football, but we hope he doesn’t just see the one year of his contract out on Tyneside and then leave the club.
Mike Ashley seems to be doing nothing to help him this summer, and the club are very short of money.
Why that’s the case, we don’t know.
But the talks on a new contract have stalled completely.
Reading the tea leaves it’s looking more and more like Rafa will see out the final year of his Newcastle contract and then get offers from all over the place as a free agent next summer.