Speculation has been running rampant for months now about whether or not Napoli manager Rafa Benitez will stay past the end of this season. His contract is up at campaign's end, and contract negotiations have been difficult to say the least. At different times this season, contract offers have been pulled by the club, been reported to be close to being signed, and been rejected by Rafa.
Right now it's believed that talks for a new contract between Rafa and Napoli are stalled, with the club's poor form again making Aurelio De Laurentiis want to wait before committing to a future with the Spanish manager. Some believe that the current state of affairs mean that, even if Rafa survives as Napoli's manager to the end of the season, he won't be back next year.
Rafa added fuel to that speculation in his pre-match press conference, telling assembled journalists that he "didn't want to discuss" his contract situation, and that "the situation is the same as it was before Roma and Fiorentina." Of course, before those two matches negotiations were off, and before the Roma match specifically he had a "win or else" warning hanging over his head.
Those quotes weren't the highlight of the press conference, though, as Rafa dropped one heck of a bombshell on the media: "I’ve said no to two offers [from other clubs], because I’m the Coach of Napoli, for now I want to work here, then we’ll see. In the past 15 days I’ve turned down two offers, but I won’t tell you who."
If we're to take Rafa at his word, two other clubs have approached him about taking on their managerial posts since the start of the month, and he said no to both because he wants to stay at Napoli. That's more of a commitment to the club than he's shown in other recent interviews, but really the most fascinating part is the two job offers.
Everyone is assuming that one of the clubs is Liverpool, currently managed by the embattled Brendan Rodgers and having an even more disappointing season than Napoli (yes, that's possible!). Rafa is beloved by much of the Liverpool fanbase, and his family still lives in the city more than five years after he and the English club parted ways.
Even if one club is Liverpool, though, who's the other club? Not a lot of jobs that are of a high enough profile to interest a manager like Rafa seem to be at risk of opening up. There was some speculation not too long ago that Rafa is holding out for the Spanish National Team, but there's no indication that Vicente Del Bosque is leaving that job any time soon.
This whole will-he-won't-he-stay thing with Rafa was already looking pretty interesting, and with this week's developments - between this news and him cancelling some of the extra practices De Laurentiis demanded - it's only grown more fascinating. Now we sit and wait to see what shoe drops next in this saga.