Shanghai - Champions
League-winning manager Rafael Benitez said on Tuesday that he will join
Chinese top-tier side Dalian Yifang, just days after his three-year
reign at English club Newcastle United came to an end.
"After a long path... We start a new challenge! I'm happy to begin
this new project with Dalian Yifang," the Spaniard wrote on his verified
Benitez, who guided Liverpool to the UEFA Champions League crown in
2005 and has managed at European giants like Inter, Chelsea, and Real
Madrid, parted ways with Newcastle last week.
The 59-year-old becomes the latest big-name foreign manager to try
his luck in the Chinese Super League (CSL), which have included the
likes of Brazil's World Cup-winning coach Luiz Felipe Scolari, and
Italian legend Fabio Cannavaro, who remains in charge at CSL powerhouse
Dalian Yifang, who are currently in joint 10th place in the CSL, also confirmed his appointment.
"Dalian Yifang Football Club is honoured to have Mr. Rafa Benitez," the club said on its social media account.
"We believe that through his efforts, he will be able to rebuild the
glory and realise the expectations of the majority of fans."
The club, which did not divulge terms, has never won the Chinese league title.
Unconfirmed reports have said previously that Benitez had been
offered a contract worth £12 million per year by Dalian
Benitez was a hugely popular figure at Newcastle after leading the
club to promotion in his first full season and stabilising Newcastle in
the Premier League over the past two years.
Early in his coaching career, Benitez won two Spanish La Liga titles
at Valencia, the come-from-behind Champions League title with Liverpool
in the "Miracle of Istanbul", and was twice named UEFA Manager of the
He never won the English Premier League with Liverpool, however, but subsequently won some hardware at Chelsea and Napoli.
Benitez didn’t last a full season before Real Madrid dismissed him early in 2016, however.
Joining Newcastle shortly after, he was unable to save the team from
relegation, but became hugely popular with fans by earning promotion
straight back to the Premier League the following season.
Newcastle finished well clear of relegation this season, raising hopes for the club's future.
But Benitez has said that differing visions over strategy with club
owner Mike Ashley prevented them reaching an agreement on a contract