L’Équipe report that Newcastle United manager Rafa Benitez met with two representatives from Lyon-based football agency Score Agencies on the 6th March in Manchester – the meeting resulted in the Spaniard signing a contract with the agency which gives them the exclusive rights to manage his interests in France until 1st September 2019.
The Magpies have offered Benitez a new two-year contract, which he does not appear to have responded to. In this meeting in Manchester with Score Agencies, Benitez was accompanied by his lawyer and advisor Richard Green, who replaced the ex-Liverpool manager’s previous long-term agent Manuel Garcia Quilon in October 2017.
Benitez is not ruling out the possibility of signing a new deal with Newcastle, but he knows that he will not be given the financial backing required to challenge the top 6 in the Premier League if he does.
The French market is attractive and open for Benitez. Rumours have emerged in recent days that Marseille will move to fire manager Rudi Garcia if the club fails to land a Champions’ League place for the second consecutive season. Marseille have never shied away from going after foreign managers in the past, and the potential arrival of Benitez could convince Sporting Director Andoni Zubizarreta to stay, who is currently considering an approach from Arsenal.
The other credible option in France is Lyon, with President Aulas announcing earlier this week that manager Bruno Génésio’s contract extension offer has been pulled for the time being after the club failed to make the Coupe de France final. The Lyon President prefers for managers to work with pre-existing coaching staff already at the club, which Benitez would not be opposed to – he likes travelling and wherever he goes next he is willing to only bring his fitness coach Paco De Miguel if that’s all that he is allowed to bring.
Benitez also speaks French, which would assuage fears on Aulas’ side about hiring someone who isn’t French for the job, because he typically views that as an increased risk if there is a language barrier involved.