English Premiership

Inter reach deal with Benitez

2010-06-09 09:26
Rafa Benitez (File)
Milan - Rafael Benitez has agreed to become the new coach of European champions Inter Milan, the Italian side's president Massimo Moratti announced on Tuesday.

"We've got an agreement, we finalised the last details that in any case weren't important," said Moratti, quoted by the ANSA news agency.

"Tomorrow we will say when Rafa Benitez will be presented.

"All we need is a counter-signature. In any case I think Benitez is not in Italy and will arrive here for the presentation."

Benitez, 50, parted company with Liverpool last week after guiding the English giants to a disappointing seventh-place finish in the Premier League last season.

If confirmed as coach of Inter, he will take over from Jose Mourinho, who joined Real Madrid after leading the nerazzurri to a unique treble of Serie A, Italian Cup and Champions League titles last month.

A report in the Daily Telegraph newspaper on Tuesday claimed Benitez intends to take several members of his backroom staff from Liverpool with him, including assistant Mauricio Pellegrino, fitness coach Paco de Miguel and goalkeeping coach Xavi Valero.

Benitez has also been linked with an immediate move for Liverpool's defensive midfielder Javier Mascherano, who said earlier in the week that his former boss was the one man capable of following in Mourinho's footsteps.

"Only Benitez could take the place of a coach like Mourinho," said the Argentina captain.

"He is a great coach. He has charisma, personality, a winning mentality.

"Moreover, he will find himself brilliantly in Italy because of the tactical game. Rafa studies everything on the table and directs the team from the bench like an orchestra conductor.

"After Mourinho, he is the only man capable of continuing Inter's winning run."

Benitez's departure from Anfield took place amid protests from fans angry at perceived mismanagement of the club by American owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett, who have saddled the club with debts of 351 million pounds.

The Spanish coach enjoyed a golden start to his Anfield tenure, inspiring the club to their fifth European Cup title in 2005 as they came back from 3-0 down to beat AC Milan on penalties on a memorable night in Istanbul.

The FA Cup followed in 2006 and Liverpool looked to be on the verge of their first English league title since 1990 after finishing second to Manchester United in 2008/09.

Their anticipated title challenge did not materialise last season, however, and the club also crashed out of the Champions League in the group phase, before reaching the semi-finals in the Europa League.

Inter won their fifth successive Italian title last term, but Benitez has been targeted to ensure they remain competitive in continental competition.

Benitez is a renowned operator on the European stage, having also led Valencia to UEFA Cup glory in 2004, and his challenge at the San Siro will be to continue the work of Mourinho after the Portuguese ended Inter's 45-year wait for the top prize in club football.

Read more on:    rafael benitez  |  liverpool  |  inter milan
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