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Rafael Benítez is hoping to receive a formal offer to become Everton’s new manager after holding positive talks with the club.

The Spaniard has emerged as a candidate for the post, which has been vacant ever since Carlo Ancelotti’s shock return to Real Madrid at the start of the month. Everton’s board, led by majority shareholder, Farhad Moshiri, have mulled over a number of candidates and looked set to hire the former Wolves manager Nuno Espírito Santo. But subsequent reservations within the club’s hierarchy regarding the suitability of the Portuguese has led to Benítez becoming the frontrunner.

The 61-year-old would be a controversial choice among Everton supporters because of his Liverpool allegiances – he managed the club for six years, led them to the Champions League in 2005 and called his would-be employers a “small club” after a Merseyside derby in February 2007. However, Benítez believes his work would appease Evertonians in time. The move would also suit him on a personal level given he continues to live in the area.

Benítez has been out of work since leaving the Chinese side Dalian Yifang in January. Before that he led Newcastle to 10th- and 13th-place finishes in the Premier League during a three-year spell in the north-east. He also won the Europa League during an interim spell at Chelsea between 2012-13.

Should Benítez get the Everton job, it would be the second managerial appointment under Moshiri that will have gone down badly within the fanbase, with the first being that of Sam Allardyce in November 2017.