Given the Chelsea owner’s intolerance with underachieving managers, it would be no news if Rafa suffers the sack in the very near future. However, should he remain until the end of the season, it is likely that his short-term contract at Stamford Bridge will not be extended.
So where is it next for the former Liverpool manager? We look at five clubs which could each offer Rafael Benitez an escape route.
Valencia was the club where Benitez first enjoyed notable success. He defied all odds by guiding Los Che to their first league title in 31 years, back in 2002. They enjoyed even more success in 2004 under Benitez’s guidance as they won both La Liga and UEFA Cup titles. From then onwards, Valencia have gone on a decline. Rafa could be the man to resurrect this team which is struggling to compete with giants Barcelona and Real Madrid.
Being a former Madridista as a coach and a player himself, Benitez is aware of the values at the club. He guided Real Madrid’s U-19s to three titles – the 1992/93 Spain U-19 League and the Spain U-19 Cup (in 1991 and 1993). In 2004, he also served as an assistant to then Real Madrid manager Vicente del Bosque.
The post Benitez is yet to take at the Santiago Bernabeu is the hot seat, currently occupied by former Chelsea boss and personal rival Jose Mourinho. But with the ‘Only One’ facing dislike from many supporters and club members according to Spanish paper Marca, speculations reveal that Real Madrid are looking to appoint a new manager – if not immediately, at least in summer. Benitez’s success in Spain and his former allegiance with Los Blancos could make him a strong candidate for the Real Madrid coaching job.
QPR might not be the glorious team Benitez would want to manage, but it surely will be a new challenge for the Spanish manager who has coached Segunda Division teams Extremadura and Tenerife in the past. With Queens Park Rangers owner Tony Fernandes on a spending spree, Benitez may do a brilliant job in helping the team's quest to keep playing top-flight football.
During his reign at Liverpool, Rafa was able to make effective use of the money handed to him. He purchased top players including Xabi Alonso, Fernando Torres, Jose Reina, Daniel Agger, Dirk Kuyt, Javier Mascherano, Martin Skrtel and Glen Johnson. Londoners QPR want to develop as a force in England. Appointing Rafael Benitez could turn out to be a sublime decision.
Borussia Dortmund manager Jurgen Klopp has been linked to a host of clubs and the German giants might be without a manager this summer. Benitez’s preference for attacking play is consistent with their free flowing attacking game.
Dortmund have not experienced European success in a long time and given Benitez’s success in the competition, he could be a perfect fit at the club. Besides, this might see the Real Madrid Castilla product build an interesting rivalry with Bayern Munich’s future coach, Pep Guardiola.
The current Milan side is a shadow of its former self. They were once a force in Italy and Europe. The Rossoneri have failed to give Serie A champions Juventus a fight. Milan have negligible chances of even qualifying for the UEFA Champions League.
Massimiliano Allegri’s management of the club this year has created huge doubts over his future. Three years after enduring a miserable spell with Internazionale, Rafa could return to the San Siro and take over at Milan to help the club realise its true potential under his leadership. One thing to note: the press will be curious about the Spaniard’s relationship with new signing Mario Balotelli.