It’s been more than a decade now since Rafa Benitez was in charge at Liverpool, and the Spaniard’s best chance of a return to the Reds appeared to pass when the current owners, still new to football at the time, chose to bring in Brendan Rodgers in 2012.
Still, Benitez still harbours at least a slim hope of one day having the chance to return. That’s the word from Guillem Balague—though he insists it remains something of a vague, long-term hope and certainly isn’t anything Benitez is thinking of in the present.
“There is a feeling of unfinished business with Rafa and Liverpool, I’ve always said that,” said Balague, who had strong connections in the club during the Spanish manager’s tenure and wrote a book about Liverpool’s 2005 Champions League triumph.
“Rafa would love to be the Liverpool manager at some point. Maybe in a time of crisis—a proper crisis, not what’s happening now. Maybe in a time where there’s a need for a strong personality to steady that ship. But right now that situation doesn’t exist.”
With Jürgen Klopp in charge now, it’s certainly hard to see how Benitez would end up back at Liverpool in the short-term at least. And longer term, the belief amongst those with ties to the club is that Pepijn Lijnders is seen as Klopp’s natural successor.
Still, even if things seem settled and certain at Anfield in the short-term—and the club’s injury-induced stumbles this season likely don’t change that—it’s perhaps good to know that if the situation did some day call for it, Rafa Benitez remains a willing option.
“How can we think Klopp has reached the end of an era?” Balague added of the club’s current struggles. “Look at the bigger picture. How can anybody suggest that? It’s laughable. It’s stupid and absurd to be talking about a future without Klopp.”