Goal can confirm that the Spaniard has had positive talks with the Toffees board, having dampened their interest in former Wolves boss Nuno.
Rafa Benitez has become the surprise favorite for the vacant managerial post at Everton.
Goal can confirm that the Spaniard has had positive talks with the Toffees board, having dampened their interest in former Wolves boss Nuno Espirito Santo.
Sources say a deal could even be finalized this week, with the 61-year-old becoming the first man to lead both Liverpool and Everton.
What is the situation ?
Everton have been on the hunt for a new boss since Carlo Ancelotti’s surprise resignation earlier this month.
A number of candidates were vetted by Farhad Moshiri, the club’s majority owner, and just last weekend it emerged that Nuno was the preferred candidate.
Graeme Potter of Brighton has also been discussed at board level, as have former Blues managers Roberto Martinez and David Moyes, as well as former Bournemouth boss Eddie Howe.
Benitez, however, is said to have admirers within the club despite his strong relationship with Liverpool. He led the Reds between 2004 and 2010, winning the Champions League in 2005 and the FA Cup a year later. Wednesday marked the 17th anniversary of his arrival at Anfield.
He has been out of work since leaving Chinese Super League club Dalian Professional in January, but has been keen to return to senior management. The fact that his family are still based near Liverpool on the Wirral Peninsula makes Everton’s job even more appealing.
How would his nomination go with Everton fans?
If named, it would surely be the most controversial move in Everton’s recent history.
Benitez will be forever associated with Liverpool since that famous night in Istanbul in 2005, and he has clashed with Everton in the past, calling them a “little club” after a Merseyside derby in 2007.
A number of fans have already taken to social media to voice their concerns, although his pedigree as a manager and willingness to play such a controversial role may count in his favor.
Benitez won two La Liga titles and a UEFA Cup with Valencia, and guided Chelsea to the Europa League in 2013. He also won an Italian Cup with Napoli.
Spells with Inter Milan in 2010 and Real Madrid in 2015-16 were less successful, despite winning the Italian Super Cup and FIFA Club World Cup at Inter – but Benitez is revered at Newcastle, which he led to league success in 2017, before consolidating the Magpies as a Premier League club.