​Former Newcastle boss Rafa Benitez has hinted that he would be open to a Premier League return in the future.

The Spaniard left Tyneside in the summer after three years in charge and was replaced by Steve Bruce, a decision which left fans furious. Despite Newcastle sitting just two points away fifth place, Bruce is yet to match the popularity among the fans as his predecessor.

Rafael Benitez

Benitez reportedly did not share the same vision as owner Mike Ashley and departed for Dalian Yifang, who currently sit ninth in the Chinese Super League. However, he has hinted that a ​Premier League return is not out of the realms of possibility after his contract expires in 2021.

Speaking to ​Radio 5Live, he said: "Obviously my idea in the future will be the Premier League. Then I want to stay close to my family. It is a league I like a lot.

"Why I decided to stay in ​Newcastle after relegation is because we beat ​Tottenham 5-1 in the last game with 10 players and the atmosphere was amazing.

"If in the future, people were talking about our first game here when we had 30,000 people. After two or three games, we then had 55,000 people, so I like to see the fans enjoying the game, the passion and the commitment of the players. This is what I had at ​Newcastle and hopefully in the future when I go back to the Premier League."

Benitez enjoyed successful spells with ​Liverpool and Newcastle in the Premier League, and has admitted that he still follows both sides. However, he is not surprised that both of his former teams are playing well.

"I think when you talk about my Newcastle or my Liverpool, you cannot compare them with these teams now. It is totally different, the time is different, the league is different, but both are doing well.

Wolverhampton Wanderers v Newcastle United - Premier League

"Newcastle United, I will say after we were promoted and had two years in the Premier League, they are doing well. We finished, some people don't remember, but we finished really well when we signed Miguel Almiron. We finished seventh in the second half of the league if you just take the second part of the league.

"Now, it is a new team, a new manager and they have spent some money. I think Steve Bruce is doing well."