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Rafael Benitez “emotional” at Real Madrid unveiling, “admires” Raheem Sterling

Rafael Benitez, Florentino Perez

Rafael Benitez, Florentino Perez


Rafael Benitez was unveiled as the new Real Madrid manager on Wednesday, as the Spanish coach is heading home.

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Benitez, 55, has spent the last 11 years coaching Liverpool, Inter Milan, Chelsea and Napoli but he signed a three-year deal to take charge at the Santiago Bernabeu as Carlo Ancelotti’s replacement.

On returning to his boyhood club, Benitez spoke of his emotional connection to Los Blancos.

“It’s an emotional day returning here to my home,” Benitez said. “I have a good technical team behind me and I hope things go well, that we win titles and the team plays well.”

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An interesting piece of news also came from the press conference in Madrid, as Benitez revealed the Spanish giants “admire” Liverpool winger Raheem Sterling.

Still only 20 years old, Sterling was signed for Liverpool by Benitez back in 2010.

“We admire Raheem, that’s no secret,” Benitez said. “But he is not one of our players so I can’t really comment on him.”

Interesting. Watch this space as Sterling has refused to sign a new Liverpool deal and has two years left on his current contract at Anfield. Could a big money bid from Real this summer tempt Liverpool to cash in?

Back to Benitez... The Madridista came through the academy at Real as a young player but never made the jump to the first team. Instead he took charge of Real’s B team in his first coaching gig back in 1993. His connection with the 10-time European champions is strong and he knows that even if he’s a local guy, he won’t be cut any slack by Real’s fanatical supporters who demand success each and every season.

“When you have a roster with such quality you have to attack, to try to score goals, and to win if possible playing attractive football,” Benitez said.

His track record of winning domestic and European trophies at Valencia, Liverpool, Inter Milan, Chelsea and Napoli speaks for itself and although Benitez may not be the most high-profile appointment by Real’s president Florentino Perez to replace Ancelotti, his mixture of substance with style could work well at Real.

Benitez has a stable of star players in Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema and Gareth Bale, but getting the team to defend as a unit without losing their attacking flair has been an issue for both Ancelotti and Jose Mourinho before him.

Let’s see how Benitez fares as he heads home.

Follow @JPW_NBCSports