Newcastle transfer news: Surprise Director of Football claim emerges involving ex-Toon boss

Former Everton and Newcastle United manager Rafa Benitez

Sky Sports journalist Keith Downie has ‘floated’ the idea of former Everton manager Rafael Benitez becoming Newcastle United‘s new director of football around to a couple of people. 

The Magpies are currently searching for the appropriate person to fill the vacant position, and Downie believes their ex-boss could be the ideal candidate. 

What is the latest news involving Newcastle?

Nick Hammond, who was previously the director of football at both Reading and Celtic, was appointed by Newcastle’s new owners on a short-term deal as a transfer consultant towards the end of December. 

Hammond has overseen the arrivals of both Kieran Trippier and Chris Wood from Atletico Madrid and Burnley, respectively, and is set to remain in the role for the remainder of the January window. 

Meanwhile, external recruitment company Nolan Partners are leading the process for a permanent candidate.

Brighton and Hove Albion chief Dan Ashworth has emerged as the leading contender for the position, and Newcastle have reportedly ‘held talks’ with the highly-respected 50-year-old. 

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According to The Athletic, a decision on Ashworth’s future is ‘not imminent’ despite the ongoing negotiations, while the North-East outfit have also identified other possible targets. 

Attracting the former English FA member to St. James’ Park may prove to be a difficult task, though, as he’s believed to be happy on the south coast, opening the door to different options. 

What has Downie said about Newcastle?

One name who Downie believes could be a good fit for the role is Benitez. 

The Spanish tactician took charge of Newcastle between 2016 and 2019, guiding them back to the Premier League before cementing their top-flight status in consecutive campaigns. 

And now Downie has stated the 61-year-old may be ready to take a place in the boardroom rather than the dugout. 

He told GiveMeSport: “I floated this idea to a couple of people, and you know, Rafa has been around for a while now, why not consider him for the director of football role?”

Would Benitez be a good appointment?

Appointing Benitez would certainly represent a significant risk for Newcastle given his lack of experience as a director of football. 

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Nevertheless, he is already familiar with the club following his largely successful three-year stint with the Toon and has shown throughout his career that he’s able to identify and sign top-class talent. 

The likes of Fernando Torres, Gonzalo Higuain and Javier Mascherano have all been recruited by Benitez, and it could prove to be an astute move by Newcastle. 

Read More – January Transfer Window 2022: When does it open, when does it close and which players are going to move?

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