Benitez closes the door on Newcastle return

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Rafael Benitez during the Everton Training Session at USM Finch Farm on October 13 2021 in Halewood, England.

Rafael Benitez has reaffirmed his commitment to Everton amid links with a return to Newcastle United.

The takeover by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund at St James’ Park fuelled speculation that the Spaniard could be in line for a surprise return.

Two of Benitez’s long-standing former Liverpool allies have been swiftly enlisted by the new Tyneside regime in Frank McParland and Owen Brown.

Club director Amanda Staveley, who brokered the £300 million deal, also has links to the 61-year-old from attempts to set up a 2008 takeover at Liverpool.

But Benitez insisted on Friday that his focus remains on Goodison Park, where he has produced four wins from Everton’s first seven Premier League games.

He said: “I have a very, very good relationship with Newcastle United fans, with the city, everyone. I think it’s not fair to talk too much about that.

“I am the Everton manager now, I am focused on that and I wish them all the best.

“There are so many things that we can talk about, I prefer just to stay away from that and just wish them all the best. Sorry about that.”

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Rafael Benitez (R) speaks to Andros Townsend during the Everton Training Session at USM Finch Farm on October 06 2021 in Halewood, England.

“I can tell you that I have a lot of friends and they were asking me the same question, a lot of messages,” added the Blues’ manager.

“From day one, when I was talking to the board here, they didn’t need to worry about that because I decide to stay here, I am really happy.

“It’s just (a case) of trying to improve everything I can here, focus, and again I will say, wishing them all the best.

“But this time when I decide to stay here, I keep my word and continue working here.”

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