Rafa Benitez reveals Rangers manager Steven Gerrard asked to loan Sean Longstaff last summer

Newcastle United allowed Rafa Benitez to leave during the summer after both parties couldn’t agree to terms of a new deal.

The Spaniard remains very popular with the Saint James Park fans, and is arguably one of the best managers they have ever had.

Apart from helping them secure instant promotion back to the Premier League after they went down to the Championship and keeping them up in the last two seasons, Benitez helped turn academy graduate Sean Longstaff into a first-team star.

The 21-year-old only played nine Premier League games last season but was on the radar of Manchester United all summer.

It has now emerged that Scottish Premiership giants Rangers also wanted him.

Benitez told The Athletic that his former charge at Liverpool Steven Gerrard asked about signing Longstaff on loan in the summer of 2018, but he turned him down.

“In fact, in the summer of last year, Stevie called me about Sean Longstaff. Rangers were interested and he asked whether they could sign him on loan, but I told him “no” — he’d be staying at Newcastle United,” the erstwhile Toons boss revealed.

“Some people have said, “Oh, Rafa was lucky because of Longstaff” but we’d been watching him and we were happy with him, we played him in the first-team, supported him and gave him confidence.

“Turning Rangers down is proof of what we thought of Sean.”

Longstaff, and his younger brother Matty have both featured for Steve Bruce’s side this term, with the latter marking his Premier League debut with a goal against the Red Devils prior to the international break.

It remains to be seen if Newcastle will be able to hold on to Sean for much longer, but Benitez definitely made a great decision to stop him from joining Rangers.

After watching him become a mainstay for the Magpies within such a short while, though, Gerrard would have been left imagining what would have been had the youngster secured a move to Ibrox.

Rangers are looking to stop Celtic’s domestic dominance, and without a doubt, a quality player like Longstaff in their midfield would have boosted their chances last season.