Benitez leaves Napoli as Real job beckons

Rafael Benitez has confirmed he is leaving Napoli at the end of the season after two years in charge, paving the way for a move to take over at Real Madrid.

The Spanish coach has been linked with Real, who parted company with coach Carlo Ancelotti on Monday.

Madrid-born Benitez spoke in a press conference alongside Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis, and said: “My contract with Napoli was a two-year deal. A contract that will end on Sunday after the game against Lazio.

“I want to thank the club, its president and the fans for what you have done for me.

“I want to say goodbye to this club and I want to end my cycle here with a victory and a place in the qualifying round of the Champions League.”

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Benitez, who began his coaching career with Real Madrid’s B team, has been away from Spain since 2004, when he left Valencia to take the helm at Liverpool.

Benitez considered remaining for a third year at Napoli, however.

“A few weeks ago I spoke to my wife to try to convince her, but then I told (Napoli president) Aurelio (De Laurentiis) that it would not have been an easy task,” he said.

“He had to look ahead and so did I, we will try to win until the end.”

Napoli won the Coppa Italia under Benitez in his first season but the current campaign got off to a rocky start when the club lost to Athletic Bilbao in the qualifying stages for the Champions League.

The Naples outfit still have a chance to achieve a top-three finish with a victory at home to Lazio on Sunday night and that would put them back into the Champions League qualifying round.

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