MUNICH — Rafa Benitez will be offered the chance to join Germany’s footballing renaissance next season, with Schalke chasing him as their No 1 choice to be new manager.
Benitez, who took on arch-rival Sir Alex Ferguson at Old Trafford yesterday as Chelsea continue in their quest to qualify for the Champions League, is the leading contender to take over at the Bundesliga club.
With the current ascendancy of Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich, who will contest the Champions League final at Wembley on May 25, Germany is now an increasingly attractive option for managers.
If Benitez makes the move, he would find himself pitting his wits against compatriot Pep Guardiola, who is joining Bayern Munich, adding to the Bundesliga’s growth in global stature.
Schalke is an attractive option as the club play in a state of the art, 61 000 capacity stadium and last season enjoyed a higher average attendance than Arsenal.
The club, based in the industrial region of north-west Germany, are considered one of the biggest in the country and were Champions League semi-finalists in 2011, losing to Manchester United.
Benitez is enjoying a strong finish to his time as interim manager at Chelsea, having been voted manager of the month and taking the club to the Europa League final.
If Chelsea can secure Champions League qualification and win the Europa League, Benitez is likely to be receive further offers, with Paris Saint-German remaining a possibility, given the imminent departure of Carlo Ancelotti to join Real Madrid.
Schalke currently have an interim manager, Jens Keller, who took over when the previous incumbent, Huub Stevens, was sacked in December.
Benitez would welcome the opportunity to work at a club like Schalke in an increasingly high profile league.