Rafa Benitez is available and hungry for a return to the Premier League

Credit: PA

Everton are considering a shock move for former Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez.

Benitez is available and hungry for a return to the Premier League, and Everton owner Farhad Moshiri is weighing up what would be the most unexpected appointment in Goodison Park history.

Moshiri initially focused on two clear frontrunners in the race to replace Carlo Ancelotti, who plunged the club into an unwanted managerial crisis last week to return to Real Madrid. A first round of talks with representatives of ex-Wolves coach Nuno Espirito Santo did not lead to a convincing outcome, and a reunion with David Moyes is complicated as he is under contract at West Ham. Moyes, who spent 11 years at Everton, remains a strong contender, but Moshiri is adamant he will not meet the Scot without permission from the West Ham board with whom he has a good relationship.

That means some of the names previously thought of as rank outsiders have come into the equation, with Benitez, 61, the most intriguing to have been discussed at boardroom level.

Moshiri has good reason to at least meet Benitez, who lives on Merseyside and is a free agent following his most recent stint at the Chinese club, Dalian Professional. There has already been contact between Benitez and Everton to sound out mutual interest. But for his obvious Anfield connections – Benitez spent six years at Liverpool where he won the Champions League and FA Cup – his candidacy would be a no-brainer given the calibre of his CV which includes the highest honours in European football.

Benitez has spoken openly about his eagerness to return to management in England as soon as possible, and is pragmatic enough to realise the Everton job is an attractive proposition. 

The question for Moshiri is how palatable that would be to his fanbase. There are numerous examples of players switching their allegiances, but no manager has ever led both clubs. 

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Moshiri mulling over so many options is a sign that the recruitment process could take time, the owner with much to ponder as he assesses what direction to lead the club in the aftermath of Ancelotti’s exit.

Everton desperately need a unifying figure to bring stability and continuity to the manager’s office, but the last nine days have served to underline the lack of certainty about the style of football and type of figurehead the club wants, the names considered ranging from experienced, proven managers to up-and-coming coaches.

Moshiri has tried many profiles of coach during the course of his six year reign: Roberto Martinez and Marco Silva meant to represent an exciting future; Ronald Koeman and Ancelotti men of global clout who were supposed to be safe pairs of hands; and Sam Allardyce.

Martinez, sacked in 2016, has also been mentioned for a potential Everton return, along with former Lille coach Christophe Galtier and Brighton’s Graham Potter.