Newcastle United boss Rafa Benitez is West Ham United’s top target if, as expected, they part company from David Moyes.
Moyes arrived midway through the season replacing Slaven Bilic, and he meet his target of keeping West Ham in the Premier League.
However, West Ham fans have never been fully convinced by Moyes and likewise neither has owner David Sullivan, who with co-chairman David Gold, has been mulling over their options.
Now sources close to the club have told me that Moyes is it is ‘more than likely’ that the Scot will be thanked for his efforts but shown the exit door.
I also understand that Sullivan already knows who he wants and Benitez, a man who he has almost landed before, is his preferred candidate.
The Hammers are ready to offer him a sizeable budget and pay his £6million release clause, but it is believed they would struggle to match the personal terms he currently enjoys on Tyneside – as he is one of the top paid managers in England’s top-flight.
Benitez has been speaking about his own future, with just one-year left on his current deal at Newcastle – who are yet to agree a new deal with him
“I have another year of my contract and we are trying to do our best to do what we have to do to go forward. There are conversations and we will see how far we go,” he said.
Newcastle owner Mike Ashley responded by insisting they would be backing the Spaniard to the full this summer.
“Rafa, as always, has my full support and, contrary to some media reports that portray me as a pantomime villain, I will continue to ensure that every penny generated by the club is available to him.
“I hope very much that Rafa will remain at Newcastle United.”
It now remains to be seen if West Ham will push ahead with their pursuit of Benitez or look elsewhere. Burnley’s Sean Dyche and Fulham chief Slavisa Jokanovic are also high on Sullivan’s shortlist, whist some big foreign names like Manuel Pellegrini and Paulo Fonseca have also been linked.
Indeed BetVictor make former Manchester City boss Pellegrini, currently managing in China, an early favourite to replace Moyes at 6/4 ahead of Benitez at 7/2.