Manchester City assistant manager Mikel Arteta has emerged as an early frontrunner to takeover from Rafa Benitez at Newcastle, after the club announced they would not be renewing the Spaniard’s contract.
Benitez has been at St James’ Park for three years, in which time he has cemented himself as a fan favourite in a time of great turmoil on Tyneside.
The news many Newcastle fans were dreading – Rafael Benitez to leave after 3 years as manager. Anger towards owner Mike Ashley + uncertainty around team & takeover saga only set to increase. Mikel Arteta early favourite with most bookmakers but understand no contact as yet #NUFC pic.twitter.com/ikQM3omu17
— David Ornstein (@bbcsport_david) June 24, 2019
His forthcoming departure duly leaves a big hole to fill, and the early reports, as per BBC Sport’s David Ornstein on Twitter, claim that the former Everton and Arsenal midfielder is the likeliest target for the Magpies as it stands, though no formal contact has yet been made.
In his tweet, Ornstein wrote: “The news many Newcastle fans were dreading – Rafael Benitez to leave after three years as manager. Anger towards owner Mike Ashley and uncertainty around team and takeover saga only set to increase. Mikel Arteta early favourite with most bookmakers but understand no contact as yet.”
Arteta, who started his career off at Barcelona’s prestigious La Masia academy before a loan move to Paris Saint-Germain precipitated spells at Rangers, Real Sociedad, Everton and Arsenal
However, by all accounts, he has been deeply impressive in his assistant role at City under Pep Guardiola and has been linked with a number of high-profile jobs, including that of replacing Arsene Wenger at the Gunners, since his instalment in 2016.
Former Chelsea, Real Madrid, Inter and Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho has also been mentioned as a possible replacement.