Dalian Yifang head coach Rafa Benitez has ruled himself out of the running to replace Unai Emery in the Arsenal hot seat.
The ex-Liverpool and Chelsea boss left his last role in the Premier League at the end of last season, walking away from Newcastle United after three years in charge at St James’ Park.
Benitez made a swift return to football in the far east, accepting the top job at Chinese Super League club Dalian Yifang on July 2.
According to Metro Sport, the 59-year-old has been touted as a candidate to succeed Emery as Arsenal’s next permanent manager, with Freddie Ljungberg currently at the helm on an interim basis.
Emery was relieved of his managerial duties in November after overseeing a seven-match winless run across all competitions, amid questions over his preferred style of play and selection policy.
It now looks certain that Benitez will not be the man to replace Emery at Emirates Stadium, as he revealed his final stance on the role at Arsenal while covering the team’s 3-1 win at West Ham on Monday for Sky Sports.
As per Metro Sport – when asked if he would be open to joining the Gunners, Benitez told Sky Sports: “At the moment, it’s a no.
“In the future, I would like to come back to the Premier League but at the moment I must be very clear: there is no chance that I will come back now because I’m really happy, really pleased, they trust me, we have a lot of staff working in a big, big project.
“People will say the league is different. Yes, it’s different. We want to leave a legacy, it’s a challenge for me.
“I’m quite happy at the moment.”
It has been suggested that Ljungberg could throw his name in the hat for the permanent manager’s role if he impresses during his temporary spell in charge, but he hasn’t had an immediate impact since being promoted from Emery’s assistant to first-team head coach.
Arsenal drew 2-2 at Norwich before suffering a 2-1 home defeat to Brighton during Ljungberg’s first two games on the touchline, but signs of improvement were seen at the London Stadium.
The Gunners beat West Ham thanks to goals from Gabriel Martinelli, Nicolas Pepe and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, but the hunt for their next boss looks set to rage on for the remainder of the Christmas period.