Interim Chelsea manager could be set for La Liga return to fill Malaga vacancy.
Malaga could make a move for Chelsea interim manager Rafael Benitez, as they seek to replace the Manchester City-bound Manuel Pellegrini for next season.
The La Liga outfit look set to undergo a number of changes this summer, following the news that their manager is likely to take up the vacant position at Manchester City.
Roberto Mancini was recently sacked following City’s FA Cup final defeat to underdogs Wigan Athletic, but talks had already reportedly taken place between Pellegrini and the club’s owners. The departing Chilean could also take star player Isco with him to the Etihad Stadium – a real blow for the club that also lost key duo Santi Cazorla and Nacho Monreal to Arsenal this season.
However, Malaga remain an attractive project due to their displays this season in La Liga and the Champions League, and with a top four place still a possibility for the club, who currently sit in sixth place in the table.
With Pellegrini leaving, they have been linked with several names, including Wigan’s Roberto Martinez, but it has now emerged that they will look to persuade Benitez to take the reins next season after his fine work in a short spell with Chelsea.
The Spaniard delivered the Blues the Europa League trophy as well as a top four place, despite a hostile reception from the club’s fans when he first joined, due to his previous time in the Premier League with rivals Liverpool.
However, he has won over the Stamford Bridge crowd now, and remains highly rated in his native Spain due to his previous success with Valencia, with whom he won two titles before a decade of dominance from Barcelona and Real Madrid.
Benitez could be the man to break their dominance again, and could be a perfect fit at Malaga, who have built a strong team in the last few seasons, though he is understood to be keen on a stay in English football.
PSG and Schalke have also been linked with Benitez, as have Serie A side Napoli, who are also chasing his predecessor at Chelsea, Roberto Di Matteo.
Benitez will certainly be in-demand this summer, but there has been no suggestion that he would land the Chelsea job permanently, with Roman Abramovich seemingly having his heart set on a return for the popular Jose Mourinho, who will be leaving Real Madrid at the end of the season to be replaced by another former Chelsea boss Carlo Ancelotti.