Celtic linked Rafael Benitez reveals return to management plan and preferred job destination

Former Liverpool, Real Madrid and Newcastle United boss Rafael Benitez has opened up on his managerial future after frequent links with the vacancy at Celtic.

Dalian Pro coach Rafael Benitez (R) looks on during their Chinese Super League football match against Guangzhou R&F in Dalian, in China's northeast Liaoning province on August 16, 2020. (Photo by STR / AFP) / China OUT (Photo by STR/AFP via Getty Images)

The Spaniard’s name has circulated for months amongst fans as one of the preferred candidates to take over the hotseat at Parkhead, currently occupied by John Kennedy on a temporary basis.

Rumours intensified when the 60-year-old left Chinese club Dalian Pro and a flurry of supporters’ bets even saw him move odds-on to take over in January – when Neil Lennon was still in post.

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However sources close to Benitez said he was keen to take a break from the game at the time and would re-assess his future in the summer.

Now, the Spaniard has his eye on a return to the dugout – but his intended destination will disappoint Hoops fans’ ambitious hopes.

“The priority is England. Why? Because obviously I like the Premier League and my family is here,” Benitez is quoted in The Times. “I had a lot [of interest] from the UAE, United States, Brazil, China, but I want to stay in Europe. And I want to stay in England.

"The project, the competitive team, is not there at the moment so we have to wait. But I don’t want to stay without working. I want to be back on the pitch as soon as possible.”

Celtic’s majority shareholder Dermot Desmond says the process in recruiting Lennon’s successor is underway and talks are being held in private.

Caretaker Kennedy leads the current bookmaker’s market, followed by Enzo Maresca, Roy Keane and Chris Wilder. Benitez is best priced 25/1.

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