Everton enter talks to hire Roberto Martinez as Rafa Benitez's final snub emerges

Roberto Martinez of Belgium during the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qualifier match between Belgium and Czech Republic at the Koning Boudewijnstadion on September 5, 2021 in Brussel, Belgium.

Roberto Martinez has emerged as the favourite to become the next Everton manager, after the club opened talks with the Belgian FA.

On a dramatic day when Rafa Benitez was sacked after less than seven months and just 25 games in charge, the Blues turned to their former boss, as they looked for an experienced coach who understands the philosophy of the club.

Martinez has indicated that he would like the challenge of resurrecting the Blues and keeping them in the Premier League, after a dramatic slump that has plunged them into relegation trouble.

But he will not walk out on Belgium after steering them into the position as the number one in the world and favourites to win the World Cup, which takes place in Qatar at the end of this year.

Talks with the Belgium governing body proceeded deep into Sunday night, for a manager who was actually favourite to take the Goodison job in the summer, until owner Farhad Moshiri dramatically decided to appoint Benitez.

His reign was always doomed, and he was sacked after the shortest term of any manager in the club history, following a run of one win in 13 matches, and a dismal defeat to rock bottom Norwich.

Benitez had tried to exercise complete control at the club, forcing the exit of Director of Football Marcel Brands and popular French star Lucas Digne. 

It has also emerged that the deposed boss also refused the chance to sign Philippe Coutinho, even after the club had agreed a deal to bring him back to Merseyside, because he demanded final say on all signings.

Everton will continue to negotiate with the Belgium FA, and are hoping to agree a deal that will see Martinez arrive before the weekend game against Aston Villa, along with his national team coach Thierry Henry.

But Moshiri is also a fan of former Chelsea, Manchester United and Spurs boss Jose Mourinho, even though the Portuguese coach is about to be sacked by Roma.

Manager of Everton Rafael Benitez reacts during the Premier League match between Norwich City and Everton at Carrow Road on January 15, 2022 in Norwich, England.

There is opposition within the club though, to another unpopular signing, and Moshiri will also place former Everton player Wayne Rooney - who is currently doing a fine job at Derby, on the list, along with the former Chelsea boss Frank Lampard.

Moshiri is notorious for changing his mind at the last minute, as he did with Benitez, and also in agreeing deals with West Ham boss David Moyes and current Manchester United manager Ralf Rangnick, before pulling out as the contracts were about to be signed.

But a deal with Martinez is thought to be close, with Benitez’s assistant Duncan Ferguson now sidelined, despite talk of him becoming an interim manager.

Benitez spoke last night of his sadness at his dismissal. In a statement issued on his personal website, he said: My love for this city, for Merseyside and its people, made me accept this challenge.

We knew it wouldn't be easy, and that it was a big challenge, both emotionally and in terms of sport, but it is only when you are inside that you realise the magnitude of the task.

We didn't only have to get results, but we also had to win over people's hearts. However, the financial situation and then the injuries that followed made things even harder.

I am convinced that we would have been better once the injured players were back and with the arrival of the new signings…unfortunately circumstances have determined the results and it won't be possible to continue this project.

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