The Hammers will make an approach to Newcastle within the next seven days in the hope of finally getting their man after a three-year wait.
Benitez, 58 is the lead name on their shortlist to take over after it was confirmed interim boss David Moyes will not be staying on beyond this summer.
Shakhtar Donetsk coach Paulo Fonseca is out of the frame, despite discussions on Monday with co-chairman David Sullivan.
West Ham are also considering title-winning former Manchester City chief Manuel Pellegrini.
And they are also still pursuing an outside shot at pinching Marco Silva from under the noses of Everton.
But West Ham reckon they can cash in on the turmoil at Newcastle to lure Benitez to London.
Hammers joint-chairman David Sullivan has claimed he was THREE HOURS away from signing Benitez in 2015, only for Real Madrid to hijack the move.
FONS' THUMBS DOWN Paulo Fonseca rejects West Ham after talks to leave Shakhtar
Benitez’s future at St James’ Park is up in the air again over Newcastle owner Mike Ashley’s plans to sell the club.
Ashley’s hefty £400million price tag could scupper a deal with businesswoman Amanda Staveley and that in turn raises questions over Benitez staying on.
The Spaniard is demanding substantial transfer funds, but could potentially be walking into the same tricky situation at penny-pinching West Ham.
Moyes wanted assurances he would be given a big enough kitty to rebuild the team, with defenders and midfielders identified as a top priority.
But the 54-year-old was not even offered a contract by the club, despite saving them from relegation.
Sunday’s 3-1 win over Everton saw them finish 13th but Hammers’ top brass still think his tally of 27 points from 31 games was not enough.
They were also concerned that the fans did not take to Moyes and feared further unrest in the stands, just as season ticket renewals are due.
Sullivan said: “Having taken stock of the situation and reflected now the campaign is complete, we feel it is right to move in a different direction.
“We are already taking steps to identify and recruit the manager we believe can take West Ham forward in line with our ambitions.
“We aim to appoint a high-calibre figure who we feel will lead the club into an exciting future for our loyal supporters within the next ten days.
“Throughout his time here, David has carried himself with dignity and honesty and we have all found him to be a pleasure to work with.
“When David and his team arrived, it was the wish of both parties that the focus be only on the six months until the end of the season, at which point a decision would be made with regards to the future.”
Source: Read Full Article