Rafa Benitez close to joining European club linked with selling £34m star to Newcastle or Liverpool

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Former Newcastle United boss Rafa Benitez is set for a return to management.

Former Newcastle United manager Rafa Benitez is closing in on a return to management with La Liga side Celta Vigo.

The 63-year-old has been out of work since being sacked by Everton in January 2022 after just six-and-a-half months in charge.

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Benitez has been frequently linked with a number of Premier League jobs since but Spanish sources claim he’s on the verge of returning to his homeland.

AFP via Getty Images

Spanish publication Revelo report that negotiations between Celta and Benitez have “accelerated” in the hope of reaching an agreement this week.

Benitez, a few months after being sacked by Real Madrid, was appointed Magpies boss in March 2016 as Steve McClaren’s successor but was unable to fend off Premier League relegation.

He stayed at St James’ Park for three years, where he guided United to the Championship title at the first attempt before re-establishing the club in the top flight.

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Benitez then had an 18-month spell in charge of Chinese club Dalian Pro before making the controversial switch to Goodison Park.

If appointed, one of Benitez’s first tasks will be to discuss the future of key midfielder Gabri Veiga, who has attracted interest from the Spaniard’s former clubs Newcastle, Liverpool and Chelsea.

The 21-year-old has a £34million release clause. Speaking in March, Celta Vigo president Carlos Mourino opened the door to Veiga leaving.

“We do not want to sell him under any circumstances but they are going to buy him from us,” Mourino said. “We know some of the offers, we would not have the capacity to pay him what other teams do.

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“Gabri has a Celtic feeling and will always have the doors open but he will depend exclusively on him and he is What they are offering him is irrefutable. He will decide where he wants to go but that club will have to pay the clause.”

Veiga is currently on international duty with Spain under-21s as they compete in the European Championships. Veiga, who scored 11 goals from midfield in 22-23, was asked about his future last week but remained coy.

“I’m not here to talk about my future, only my present,” said Veiga. I want to be in the final [squad] of the Europeans.”

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