Rafa Benitez confirms he wants to manage in England despite previous Celtic link

By David Walton

March 24, 2021

Spanish tactician Rafa Benitez has confirmed that his next move will be in England despite speculation linking him with the Celtic job.

Back when Neil Lennon was under pressure, there were reports going around that Benitez was set to become the new Celtic manager [Daily Star]. However, that didn’t come to pass with the former Liverpool and Newcastle boss taking an extended break from football.

Since leaving China back in January, Benitez has remained out of work. Given his experience with the likes of Inter Milan, Real Madrid, and Chelsea to name a few, his CV certainly excited Celtic supporters.

However, it looks like we can officially cross him off the wishlist now. For Benitez is eyeing up a Premier League gig for his next job, and admitted he would accept one immediately if it was right for him.

Speaking to the Sunday Times, Benitez said: “The priority is England. Because obviously I like the Premier League and my family is here. I have a lot [of offers] from the Emirates, United States, Brazil, China, but I want to stay in Europe. And I want to stay in England.

“If it’s the right one, we can do it tomorrow but the project, the competitive team, is not there at the moment so we have to wait.

“But I don’t want to stay without working. I want to be on the pitch as soon as possible.”

Rafa Benitez to England won’t surprise anyone, Celtic fans knew this was unlikely

There’s probably a reason as to why Benitez hasn’t been talked about by Celtic fans as much over the last month. It’s started to feel more and more unlikely the longer our managerial hunt has gone on.

Since Neil Lennon left the club, we’ve been given no further update on the search for a new man. Benitez, meanwhile, has always come across as a figure looking to head back to one of Europe’s big leagues. That’s now been confirmed by the man himself.

There would always have been question marks about the level of ambition he would have compared to the club. Benitez has also been given bags of cash in the past by previous clubs. That’s not something you could see Celtic offering him. He would be operating in a different market than he would be used to.

Rafael Benitez / (Photo by Visual China Group via Getty Images/Visual China Group via Getty Images via Getty Images)

Guillem Balague admitted in the past that there had been interest in the past from Celtic towards Benitez. However, the in-the-know journalist laughed off claims earlier this year that he could join Parkhead now.

Celtic fans have recently been discussing more attainable names. The likes of Eddie Howe and Jesse Marsch appear to be fan-favourites at the moment, with any discussion of Benitez well and truly on the back-burner.

We’ll see where Rafa ends up in the near future. But a move to Parkhead can now be all but ruled out.

In other news, new Aberdeen boss Stephen Glass has dropped a major Scott Brown hint.