Rafa Benitez today announced that he will leave Napoli at the end of the season after two disappointing years in charge. Benitez is expected to be unveiled as the new coach of Real Madrid next week after the Spanish giants fired 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.’
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.
‘The first thing is the distance from my family,’ the 55-year-old said.
Despite leading Napoli to the Coppa Italia and Italian Super Cup in 2014 and guiding them to the Europa League semi-finals this season, Rafa’s reign in Naples has been a disappointment, especially in the Champions League where they lost to Athletic Bilbao in the qualifying stages for the Champions League this season.
If Napoli bear Lazio at home on Sunday night, that would mark the second consecutive year that Benitez has guided then to a top three finish and into the Champions League qualifying round. But Napoli fans expect Champions League football and that is something Benitez could not deliver.
Now he moves into the hottest job in world football, knowing that unless he delivers the league title or Champions League crown next year he will be fired.