Newcastle close to signing Benitez as coach

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London, March 11 (IANS) Relegation-threatened English football club Newcastle United is close to signing Spanish coach Rafael Benitez, who was sacked by Real Madrid last January after just seven months in charge, reports have said.

The 55-year-old Spanish coach may sign a contract for the next three seasons to replace the under pressure Steve McClaren, who was appointed last seson, reports Efe.

According to press reports on Thursday, Benitez could seal his contract with Newcastle in the coming days to return to the English Premier League, where he has already led two teams: Liverpool between 2004 and 2010 and Chelsea as an interim coach in the 2012-13 season.

However, management at the English club think that Benitez may leave Newcastle if the team does not manage to avoid relegation.

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“I like the Premier League and it is a priority to return there because my family lives on the Wirral,” Benitez said three weeks ago.

Beside Benitez, Newcastle have considered other alternatives like Scot David Moyes, the former coach of Everton, Manchester United and Real Sociedad, and English coaches Nigel Pearson and Harry Redknapp, but the English club ruled them out after it knew about the interest of the Spanish coach.

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