It's a bonkers evening on the hamster wheel of football news. Sergio Ramos is leaving Real Madrid. And Rafa Benitez, of all people, is being linked with a move back to Liverpool to manage Everton.
The news comes via Jim White and others, who say talks are on-going and a deal is close.
Being told Rafa Benitez tonight on the brink of becoming @Everton manager after more talks today.
— Jim White (@JimWhite) June 16, 2021
Which means we've entered the kite-flying phase of negotiations. Everton seem to be gauging just how negative its fanbase would react to the hiring of a former Liverpool manager.
So far, it's been pretty negative.
Speaking on bein Sport, former Everton striker Andy Gray was unequivocal in his dismissal of the mooted appointment.
Andy Gray gives his thoughts on the possible appointment of Rafa Benitez as Everton Manager pic.twitter.com/zFsYzlUVfv
— The Toffee Blues (@EvertonNewsFeed) June 16, 2021
Gray said, "I've talked to some people I know in the Liverpool area, and they've said if that happens, they won't go back...If it'd been 10 or 11 years ago, and he'd left Liverpool, maybe... Has Rafa lit up the footballing world as a coach since? In my opinion, nowhere near it."
Richard Keys added that that club management couldn't make a 'more divisive' choice to replace Carlo Ancelotti.
The sentiment was echoed by talksport's Mike Parry.
If Rafa Benitez is appointed @Everton manager I'm out of there. As a 60 years Evertonian season-ticket holder I will not accept a reject Liverpool manager at Goodison. It's a joke. The legends Bill Shankly and Harry Catterick will be sharing a glass of bemused whisky tonight ..
— Mike Parry (@mikeparry8) June 16, 2021
Obviously there's history between Rafa and Everton. Speaking in 2007, Benitez called Everton a 'small club'.
"I was really disappointed because one team wanted to win the game and one team didn't want to lose it.
"Everton put eight or nine men behind the ball and defended deep but that's what small clubs do.
"When a team comes to Anfield and only want a point what else can you call them but a small club?"
Benitez appeared on MNF in 2019 and clarified his 'small club' remark while saying he was open to taking the job at Goodison.
— Everton FC News 💙 (@NilSatisNews) June 16, 2021
He said: "What I wanted to say was they are a small team because in this game I remember they had one chance. Liverpool fans they were happy and the Evertonians were upset. But I didn't want to say they were a small club I wanted to say they were a small team."
We'd love to Rafa and Seamus Coleman working together but that's our Irish bias coming out.