Former-Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez has signed a three-year deal to be the Real Madrid head coach. Benitez was the favourite for the job as soon as Carlo Ancelotti was shown the exit door in the Spanish capital.
Benitez has vast experience in the European game, having just finished a two-year stint in Italian football with Napoli. The Spaniard’s contract with the club from Naples was due to expire this summer and his exit from the club seemed inevitable.
The 55-year-old was born in Madrid and actually managed Real Madrid youth teams, before eventually going on to manage Valencia to two La Liga titles and a UEFA Cup. Benitez also won the Champions League with Liverpool in 2005.
Benitez won the Europa League with Chelsea in 2013 as interim boss and the Coppa Italia with Napoli in 2014. Despite those trophies, his only league title victories came with Valencia.
Real Madrid have won just one La Liga title in seven years, which came under Jose Mourinho. Benitez has become known as a cup manager, so the two do not quite fit together very well.
Coupled with the fact that arch-rivals Barcelona have the deadly trio of Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar in their attack it will be hard for Rafa to wrestle that La Liga trophy back from the Catalan giants.
Much will depend on whether the experienced boss can control the egos in that character-filled Real dressing room. This could be the biggest challenge of his managerial career so far, but it was one that he could not turn down.
Is Rafa Benitez the right man to move Real Madrid forward?