Sampdoria are pushing hard to persuade Rafael Benitez that he should be their next coach, though the full scale of the owner's ambition for the club is yet to be made clear to him.
The Italian side were promoted back to Serie A this month, a year after their relegation from the top flight, and the club's wealthy owner, Riccardo Garrone, is looking for a new coach to take the club on further. Garrone revealed yesterday that he has already been in talks with Benitez – discussions took place in London last week – but whether the former oil executive is prepared to make a big enough investment to persuade the Spaniard that the club can compete at a higher level remains to be seen. Since Sampdoria traditionally punch above their weight in Italian football, a substantial commitment is required if the club are not to be plunged back into the same problems that saw them relegated in May 2011.
Benitez, who will be aware from his time working for Massimo Moratti at Internazionale two years ago of the frustrations attached to lacking the resources to develop a squad, will be able to reach a decision when the investment plans are clearer. As of last night the ball was in the court of the Genoese side. Sampdoria appear keen on a big name, despite current coach Giuseppe Iachini earning promotion at the first attempt. Iachini took charge in November with Sampdoria floundering in mid-table in Serie B and led the team into the play-offs and to victory in the final against Varese. Iachini's contract was subsequently renewed for a season, though that does not appear to mean that Garrone wants him to stay. Garrone said yesterday that "there have been contacts with Benitez". He added there was "nothing concrete but there have been talks, it's in progress." Benitez still lives on Merseyside, where his family is settled.
The former Sampdoria manager Sven Goran Eriksson has declared that Benitez, The Independent's Euro 2012 columnist, could have a profound effect on the club's clout in the transfer market. He insisted that Benitez would be able to attract and "buy the right players." Sampdoria should "always be protagonists, because they're a great club," Eriksson said."