The manager Newcastle United contacted about taking over during Rafa Benitez’s reign

Newcastle United were interested in making Quique Sanchez Flores the successor to Rafa Benitez during the 2016/17 season.

Flores replaced Javi Gracia as Watford manager on Saturday after leaving the club by mutual consent in 2016.

The suave head coach impressed at Vicarage Road as the Hornets finished 13th in the league and made it to the FA Cup semi-finals.

After leaving England, the Spaniard returned to his homeland and guided Espanyol to an eighth-placed finish in La Liga.

It was during that season that Newcastle enquired about his availability, according to The Athletic.

Intriguingly, Benitez was masterminding Newcastle’s dominant Championship campaign at the time, fresh after signing a three-year deal at St James’ Park.

Benitez never saw eye to eye with the club’s owners, though, and had reservations about owner Mike Ashley and managing director Lee Charnley from the get-go.

The former Liverpool manager wanted to stay at Newcastle but a litany of issues with the running of the club saw him run down his contract and leave this summer, joining Chinese club Dalian Yifang.

“Newcastle’s board had a year to sort out my contract but, when we met after the end of last season, they didn’t make me a proper offer,” Benitez later revealed.

“They told me they didn’t want to invest in the academy or the training ground — if they like, I can explain the reason why Mike Ashley refused to do that.

“Their idea of a project was a policy of signing players under 24 and, in my opinion, the budget available was not enough to compete for the top 10.

“After that meeting, I knew they would not come back with a serious offer and, when it arrived, 19 days later, it was for the same salary as three years earlier and with less control over signings.

“Charnley’s comments in the programme about having a deal agreed for Joelinton in February explains a lot that I couldn’t understand at that time.

“After three years of unfulfilled promises, I didn’t trust them.”

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