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Exclusive: Valencia hero Angulo backs Benitez for Newcastle return

Valencia legend Miguel Angel Angulo has backed Rafa Benitez's mooted return to Newcastle United.

A Saudi Arabian-backed consortium is attempting to purchase Newcastle from Mike Ashley, although a piracy lawsuit could scupper the deal.

Benitez stayed with Toon in 2016 despite being unable to prevent relegation. He won the Championship title the following season and constantly expressed his desire to stay at the club.

But clashes with Ashley over the club's direction came to a head last summer and the Spaniard departed for Dalian Yifang in China.

As soon as news broke that the Saudi-bid was serious, Benitez was linked with a return to Tyneside.

With adequate funding for his squad, Benitez could potentially continue the silverware success he enjoyed with other clubs such as Valencia and Liverpool.

And Angulo, who won two La Liga titles and the UEFA Cup with Benitez at the Mestalla, would like to see his former manager return to the Premier League.

He told Tribalfootball.com: "I believe he is one of the greatest managers that Valencia CF have ever had. It was a great experience for us as players, as we learnt a lot under him.

"I think it would be phenomenal for Benitez to return to Newcastle, given how well he knows the club. I know that Benitez was based in England for a long time now but I don't know the reasons that he left Newcastle the first time around.

"He has a great reputation in England and he is very hard working too. It would be great if he could return to the Premier League."

Benitez joined Valencia from Tenerife in 2001 and won the title in his first season in charge.

Despite claiming a La Liga and UEFA Cup double in 2004, Benitez fell out with the club's sporting director Jesus Garcia Pitarch. He resigned in June and joined Liverpool shortly after.

Asked if Benitez's departure hurt the club, Angulo, now a youth coach with Valencia, said: "We can't know if Rafa Benitez leaving Valencia CF was prejudicial.

"I believe there had been a good team and there had been a good technical secretary and had been a good manger and, during a good number of years, Valencia CF was winning titles.

"With Benitez leaving, the philosophy changed when the new manager arrived with another idea. Also, the squad was being re-structured. It wasn't just a case of Benitez leaving. There were lots of other circumstances that perhaps meant that the team didn't play at its highest level."

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Will McCarthy

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