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Napoli and Rafa Benitez close to contract extension

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After months of turmoil and doubt that he'd even keep his job, Rafa Benitez is now close to signing a new deal to take his Napoli contract past the end of this season.

Giuseppe Bellini

This season has had some.... let's call them rough patches. Rafa Benitez was trying to earn a contract extension, as his deal is up at the end of this season, but poor form on the part of some players and poor tactical decisions on his part cost Napoli a number of points and put his job security in doubt.

Now, though, with Napoli on the rise again and back in the top three where they belong, talks are ongoing between manager and club to extend the relationship. There are some rumors that Rafa has already rejected two contract proposals, and given his reputation it wouldn't be surprising if it was because he felt he wouldn't be given enough power and decision-making authority in off-the-pitch matters, as he loves to reshape clubs from top to bottom with a long-term vision.

Il Mattino reports that a deal could be close, with the two sides slated to meet to hammer out final details in Doha, Qatar around the time of the Supercoppa match to be played there in December. It's believed that the deal being negotiated will keep Rafa in Naples for a further two years

The Italian paper also has a report on one other potential twist: Rafa is apparently insisting on an "out clause" that would let him take the manager's post with the Spanish national team should it come available. Rather than give him an outright free release to that job whenever it comes up (especially with Vicente Del Bosque's chair reaching molten temperatures of late), Napoli are willing to offer him the ability to take that job and leave Naples after Euro 2016 if it's open then.

That would, if nothing else, give Napoli one more full season with Rafa after this one, and will give them a better slate of available managers, as there's typically a number available at that time. Such a clause would also give the club a measure of protection should the Spain job come available sooner, though in the end there will only be so much they can do to make Rafa stay if it does.

So one supposes that this news of a new contract being close is a mixture of good news and bad news. Good: Rafa's probably going to re-sign! Yay! Bad: Rafa knows where he wants to go next, and it's a job that's probably going to be available sooner rather than later. Boo.