By Declan Walsh

2nd Aug, 2022 | 7:45pm

Rafa Benitez really wanted Dwight McNeil at Everton in ironic twist

Dwight McNeil was “coveted” by Rafa Benitez at Everton before he was dismissed at Goodison Park in January, according to iNews.

McNeil, 22, joined the Blues from Burnley last week in a deal reportedly worth around £20million [BBC Sport].

It is understood that Benitez “clashed repeatedly” with ex-Everton director of football Marcel Brands but it seems that his replacement Kevin Thelwell is working much better alongside Frank Lampard.

Everton are reportedly happy with the signing of McNeil from Burnley but “ironically”, it was unpopular ex-Blues boss Benitez who wanted him at Goodison Park first.

Well…

We’re not going to sit here and defend Benitez and argue that the club should have listened to him last summer when he showed an interest in McNeil.

Benitez made some good signings last season with Andros Townsend, Demarai Gray, Nathan Patterson and Vitaly Mykolenko proving to be astute additions at Goodison Park.

It was Lampard’s January signings that were the bigger letdowns.

Dele Alli still has a lot to prove while Donny van de Beek’s loan signing from Manchester United proved to be nothing but a short-term flop.

Benitez did have his flops too with Salomon Rondon easily being the worst but he did what he could with one hand tied behind his back.

If anything, Benitez’s moves in the transfer market weren’t his downfall.

It was always going to be hard for him to win over the Evertonian fanbase due to his history on the other side of Stanley Park while his tactical approach and in-game decisions were absolutely wretched.