• News

Rafael Benitez ‘sensed’ that Zinedine Zidane would return to Real Madrid

Would Benitez fancy a move to Celtic?
Getty Images

Former Real Madrid manager Rafael Benitez claims that he “sensed” his successor Zinedine Zidane would return to the club.

Following a disastrous campaign by Real’s usual high standards, Zidane was brought back to the Santiago Bernabeu dugout despite only handing in his resignation last May.

The French coach has since overseen three victories in his opening five games back at Real and is set to be heavily backed in the upcoming transfer window in a bid do a massive overhaul in his squad.

Now Benitez, who was replaced by Zidane in January 2016 after his dismissal, claims he foresaw his successor’s comeback.

“I had some information and I sensed that [Zidane] could [return to Madrid] and, if the fans are happy, then it’s great,” Benitez told MARCA.

The Spaniard has since been in charge of Newcastle United for the past three years, where his reputation has flourished over at St James’ Park.

Despite the club’s heavily-restricted resources, Benitez seems set to ensure Newcastle of their Premier League status for another season with the club seven points above the drop zone heading into the final four games.

Now the Magpies are keen to extend Benitez’s contract, which will expire in the summer. But the 59-year-old has made it clear he will not be signing any new deal unless his demands are met.

“I am in contact with the club and I am waiting on them to answer the questions that I have put forward in order to continue with the team,” said Benitez.

“My family is in England and I am very happy here, but a series of conditions must be met.”

Benitez, who led Liverpool to Champions League glory in 2005, reckons his old club could be set to emulate that feat this season along with winning the Premier League.

“[Liverpool] are clear candidates to win both titles,” he said.

“They have the potential to do it as [Jurgen] Klopp is doing a great job, and they are there because they have earned it.”

Newcastle will next host Southampton in a Premier League match at St James’ Park on Saturday.

NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE, ENGLAND – FEBRUARY 26: Rafael Benitez, Manager of Newcastle United looks on prior to during the Premier League match between Newcastle United and Burnley FC at St. James Park on February 26, 2019 in Newcastle upon Tyne, United Kingdom. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)