A contract extension to keep Rafa Benitez in Italy as the manager of Napoli is starting to prove elusive. Based on various reports, contact talks have been going off and on all season (with the exception of when the club tabled talks while the squad was struggling), but while a deal is believed to be "close," there's been little in the way of actual sign of progress all year long.
Now, though, some light may have been shed on that situation. Speaking from England while visiting his family during the international break, Rafa revealed that for him the most important consideration in negotiations isn't money, nor years, nor authority. No, for Rafa the most important aspect is his family.
"My family is still here in England so we have to consider a lot of things," Rafa said in an interview. This shouldn't come to a surprise to most Napoli fans, as he's frequently mentioned his wife and daughters in the past, and spends as much time as he can with them during every international break. His family still lives in Liverpool, the city where some of Rafa's greatest career successes came as Liverpool's manager, and for someone that loves his family so much, being a continent away from them most of them can't be easy.
In fact, he said as much to the Gazzetta a few days ago. "It’s the first time I haven’t had [my family] with me, it’s not easy," Rafa told the Italian paper. "[Aurelio] De Laurentiis knows how important my family values are to me."
Many papers, especially those in England, are using these quotes to fuel speculation that Rafa will simply walk away from Napoli at year's end when his contract is up without signing an extension. Of course, that speculation blatantly ignores all of Rafa's other quotes in those interviews about being happy at Napoli, pleased with the direction the club is going in, and wanting to guide the club's growth. Why? Because spinning the family quotes in to "I want out" context sells more papers and gets more pageviews.
Rafa's family will play a role in his extension negotiations. That much is obvious. He likely won't sign a deal unless he has assurances about how often he can get away to spend time with them, and even then likely not without his family's agreement. But to say that he will leave Napoli simply because he misses his wife and children is simply ignorant of reality.