Napoli boss Rafa Benitez could be one of the most in-demand available bosses in European football this summer.
He seems to be attracting the interest of clubs far and wide, including former club Liverpool, West Ham, Sevilla and Real Madrid.
It now seems almost inevitable that the experienced boss is leaving Italian outfit Napoli this summer after two years with the club from Naples.
Benitez is out of contract with the Italian club, which means he will be free to move on in this summer.
The Azzurri are currently fourth in the Serie A table and suffered a shock exit at the semi-final of Europa League against Ukrainians Dnipro on Thursday night.
Benitez had guided Napoli to third place last season and the Champions League play-off, where they suffered a surprise 4-2 aggregate defeat at the hands of La Liga side Athletic Bilbao.
They then dropped into the Europa League and were earmarked as one of the favourites to win the competition. However, Thursday night’s defeat against Dnipro means their European adventure ended rather prematurely.
The Napoli owners want the former-Valencia boss to stay in charge of their club beyond the end of the current campaign. It looks unlikely that they will get their wish though.
Despite interest from a host of clubs, Benitez has emerged as the 8/11 favourite to take over at Premier League West Ham this summer. The Spaniard is believed to fancy a return to the English top-flight this summer, with some speculation predicting he may return to Merseyside at his former club.
West Ham have enjoyed a rollercoaster of a campaign under Sam Allardyce. The 60-year-old was close to losing his job last summer because of the clubs perceived poor style of football. At the beginning of the campaign the Irons were playing far better football and threatening the top four teams.
However, the second half of the campaign has saw the club from the East End drift down the table and they have now won just one of their last six Premier League games.
Allardyce will have a meeting with the Irons owners at the end of the campaign to determine whether or not he will be the team’s boss next season. That prospect looks an unlikely one at the moment.
The Irons owners are attempting to be ambitious this summer, with even outgoing Jurgen Klopp being linked with their club. A move for Klopp may be slightly too ambitious though, with Klopp being touted as the next Manchester City boss, or even the next Real Madrid boss.
The Irons are moving into the Olympic Stadium next summer and it seems that the clubs owner’s ambitions are to make the club bigger and better in the next few years. All signs point to the Irons hierarchy wanting a team and boss to matches their new surroundings.
A move for Rafa Benitez would also be an ambitious one, as the Spaniard has managed some big European clubs and also been linked with a number of European giants.
West Ham are a good Premier League club, but it would be a stretch to compare them with Real Madrid for example, in the size of club.
West Ham have been linked with moves for other bosses this summer. Former centre-back Slaven Bilic and former Everton and Manchester United boss David Moyes are also believed to be on the Irons shortlist to replace Allardyce this summer.
Sam Allardyce is a good no-nonsense English boss, who almost guarantees a club stays in the Premier League and is competitive. However, he is unlikely to ever take West Ham to where the owners and the fans want them to be.
He has done a decent job of making West Ham a Premier League regular, but now the Irons have to take a step forward and not just stagnate.
Rafa Benitez may also be an old school boss, but he has a history of being successful at nearly every club he has been at. If West Ham could persuade him to take the managerial position at the club this summer then I have no doubt that the Spaniard would move the team forward in the coming seasons.
However, the Irons may have competition from the likes of Real Madrid and Sevilla if reports are to be believed, so they would do very well to get Benitez installed as their new boss.
Will Rafa Benitez be the next West Ham boss?