Benitez previously managed Everton's cross-city rivals Liverpool

Credit: Owen Humphreys/PA Wire.

Rafael Benitez finally appears on the verge of taking over at Everton in what would be the most unexpected appointment in the club’s history.

The former Liverpool manager has suddenly moved ahead of Nuno Espirito Santo who was the favourite to succeed Carlo Ancelotti – especially after David Moyes pledged his future to West Ham United by signing a new three-year deal.

Last Friday it seemed that Everton were close to finalising a deal to hire Nuno, who left Wolverhampton Wanderers at the end of the season, but now Benitez is considered a far more likely appointment.

Nuno and Moyes were understood to have been prominent on Everton’s original shortlist but Benitez has made it clear he wants to return to the Premier League and would have no problem managing Everton despite his six years at Liverpool.

Benitez lives in Merseyside and, like Nuno, is a free agent following his most recent stint at the Chinese club, Dalian Professional. But for his obvious Anfield connections – where he won the Champions League and FA Cup – his candidacy would be obvious 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 Everton owner Farhad Moshiri has been how palatable that would be to the club’s fanbase. There are numerous examples of players switching their allegiances, but no manager has ever led both clubs. It looks like Benitez will become the sixth manager to six years to work under Moshiri.

Ancelotti moved to Real Madrid after 17 months in charge. He replaced Marco Silva after the similarly unfulfilling reigns of Sam Allardyce and Ronald Koeman.

Everton sources insist the club is in no rush to recruit their new manager but they are progressing their talks with Benitez.